Americans are now paying attention as hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people take to the streets in protest demanding true democracy. It is a cause that tugs at our heart strings and our allegiances fall easily to a Hong Kong people seeking freedom.
The irony of American's inactive moral support is that we are credited with much more. According to the Chinese state media, and pro-Beijing politicians, it is actually the U.S., with a little help from the Brits, who are behind these demonstrations.
In 2014, that the response to unrest in Hong Kong would be the 1960's communist line of "foreign interference" as the first and only answer China has for these protests is actually a bit funny. But they are deadly serious about this anti-western campaign. It is not meant to be true. Rather it is meant to serve as justification for any action the Communist regime may need to take to protect the communist party. A party numbering at least 90 million very comfortable and wealthy officials in China.
Now I know quite a bit about Chinese anti-Western campaigns, as I am the main target of this anti-American smear campaign in Hong Kong. You see, I work for Jimmy Lai, the owner of Hong Kong's largest news media group. More importantly Mr. Lai is a staunch pro-democracy advocate who even as I write is on the streets with the protestors. Jimmy Lai is communist enemy number one in Hong Kong, and he is my direct boss.
In 2011 the emails of our company were hacked by China and another pro-China media group. Documents were stolen that showed, through my office, my boss had legally donated money to the pro-democracy political parties. All legal and a tempest in a teapot after a few days of failed attempts by Chinese media to get some investigations started.
This past July, China struck again, with hacks of our system and clones of phones. Same story, donations to politicians. But this time the intensity was multiples of 2011.
The reason was clear, Occupy Central was underway and the pro-democracy movement was picking up steam. Jimmy Lai and Next Media needed to be silenced and as ad boycotts had not worked, it was time for another smear with a new intensity to paint me as the US government man pulling the strings in every imaginable way possible.
By August mainland medial outlets openly referred to me as a CIA agent. A huge slander, but do you think my lawsuit would do well in Shanghai?
Lies in the press don't upset me, but they do trigger threats and surveillance. It would sound paranoid to say I am followed, except that the same silver Mazda, with the same guys, are 10 feet behind my bumper each day I leave home.
My son is a good baseball player, but why are the guys in the Mazda taking pictures of him at practice?
Is it normal to have reporters ask questions about the birth mothers of our adopted children, write columns on my wife having Catholic signs on our door, or knock on our door at all hours without any questions?
After a dozen or so nuts, my kids appearing in Chinese communist newspapers with their distinctive school outfits, and all rational men, including some very decent guys at State Department saying my risk profile was quite high, the family went back to the U.S. this week.
I am staying in Hong Kong, and will return after my brief trip to the United States. I have no intention of abandoning my boss, friends, and Hong Kong.
I wish I could have been there during the protests, but why give China the story of me being the coordinator? It is ridiculous to us, but even on Tuesday one of China's top defenders in Hong Kong, Regina Ip, alluded to foreign interference based on only a foreign power could run protests so well.
I'd like to take the compliment -- if it were true, and as Americans we should be proud our ideals so scare a thuggish regime. But what would be better for all is if China realized that those capable, decent, and orderly people on the streets of Hong Kong are not the enemy, but the bright future of China. It's time for free and fair elections in Hong Kong.
Mark Simon is a senior executive at Next Media Group in Hong Kong.