S'porean economist Donald Low takes dig at those who believe foreigners to blame for Hong Kong protests

He also says this narrative belies a deep insecurity in the accusers themselves.

Kayla Wong| June 14, 10:56 AM

Chinese state media ran a commentary blaming protests in Hong Kong on foreign influence, a day after demonstrations erupted on the streets on June 9 over the proposed extradition bill.

Singaporean public intellectual and economist Donald Low has since weighed in on the issue.

In a Facebook post published on Wednesday, June 12, Low expressed his astonishment by "seemingly intelligent people" saying that the protests were instigated by "foreigners and foreign agents".

This is his response to those people who believe in the "foreign influence" theory.

Hongkongers wouldn't just take to the streets for no good reason

Low first asked conspiratorial minds to think about a scenario where they are asked by a foreign authority to demonstrate on the streets for something they don't believe in.

Most wouldn't do it.

Even if some decided to do it, it would be terribly difficult to get "hundreds of thousands" of people to do that.

"If you were asked by the Chinese authorities to demonstrate on the streets (in unpleasant weather) for a cause you don't really believe in, would you do so?

If your answer is no, why would you think that hundreds of thousands Hongkongers would do so at the behest of American or whatever foreign agents?

Because Hongkongers are unusually naive or stupid?"

How bad is the system you have that Hongkongers would turn to foreign influence instead?

For the sake of argument, Low then raised a hypothetical situation where foreigners have created an "ideological, media and cultural environment" in Hong Kong that led Hongkongers to suspect China and become "distrustful" of its authorities.

He said if the demonstrators were supposedly overly influenced by American or "liberal western values", then the real problem would lie elsewhere -- in the overwhelming unattractiveness of the Chinese system to the Hong Kong people.

In other words, how unappealing does the Chinese system have to be to make the people in a predominantly ethnic and cultural Chinese society turn away and seek America, or the west, that is in supposed decline?

"If so, the problem doesn't lie with imagined foreign agents.

It lies with you and the authoritarian system you have in China, and which Hongkongers fear will increasingly be imposed here."

Narrative reveals deep insecurities about itself

Low concluded his post by putting the "nationalistic" Chinese press in the hot seat, saying that for them to say close to a million Hongkongers protested against the bill due to "western propaganda" belies a "deep insecurity and an instinctive tendency" to make "foreign devils" the scapegoat.

Such thinking is also the sort of "paranoid conspiratorial thinking that cognitive psychologists warn people against", he wrote.

Those damn foreigners again

"Foreign agents responsible for creating chaos in Hong Kong society" is the go-to response for Beijing.

This is especially so when it comes to civil disobedience in Hong Kong, where mass movements target Chinese policies towards the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Previously, Chinese state media have also blamed foreign agents for instigating the Occupy Central protests.

You can read Low's entire post here.

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Top image adapted via LKYSPP & wilfred chan/Twitter