【In My View】Protests – the hidden hand

By Majid Gafoor

Now that the protests in Hong Kong have gone on for eight months and counting, it is perhaps time to take a closer look at what the fuss is all about. The initial impetus – objection to the extradition bill is long gone. The bill is dead, but the protests remain very much alive. But it has taken on the angst of a bull in a China shop. Senseless destruction and venting of energy with no intention of listening to reason. In fact, one wonders if there was ever any logical goal in mind when all the violence erupted.

The only goals that the protesters have achieved are to disrupt the way of life in Hong Kong; put a dent in the business infrastructure; destroy  the community’s dreams of a good and fruitful life; interrupt young people’s learning; and throw a wrench into the government’s rule of law. One can easily see that they have firstly done nothing good and secondly achieved nothing good. Except …

Someone is bound to benefit since senseless action without a purpose does not exist in this world, hence the hidden hand behind the protests. The protests are a double-edged sword – they cause chaos and destruction in the community, but the protesters themselves are also the victims of that very same devastation. And let us not delude ourselves, such protests require funding to organize and perpetrate. Once you reach into this area, a sinister conspiracy theory rears its ugly head.


Let us not delude ourselves, Hong Kong’s protests require funding to organize and perpetrate. Once you reach into this area, a sinister conspiracy theory rears its ugly head. Illustration: The Economist

Who wants to fan the flames of protests in Hong Kong? To answer that, you must reach back into the very basics of investigations – the cui bono (who benefits) factor. Several suspects spring to mind and they are listed below based solely on the cui bono factor. 

The United States. The ongoing trade dispute with China means there is no love lost between these two countries. Anything the US can do to undermine or embarrass China would be a plus. The Chinese is a culture that values “face” (reputation) almost as much as hard currency. The protests in Hong Kong are certainly a slap in the face (no pun intended) for the Chinese. The growing power and influence of China is also worrying to the United States.

Taiwan. It is no secret that China has used its vast influence in the world to isolate Taiwan and squeeze it to a point where absorption with China remains the only option for survival. Anything to distract Beijing from this singular obsession is to be welcomed. There are sufficient people in Hong Kong who would do anything for money and they are ripe for exploiting with some unsubstantiated suggestions of China’s intentions.

Hong Kong tycoons. They live in the lap of luxury in Hong Kong and are the de-facto rulers of Hong Kong. They felt safe under the British and made their billions. China is a different story. The extradition bill set off alarms. Suddenly their sense of privilege was under attack and could be taken away. Something had to be done. And chaos creates opportunities for them to further fatten their bank accounts. 

So there you have it. If you are searching for “who benefits”, you have the prime suspects. Is it true or just wild speculation? You be the judge.

Majid Gafoor is a former journalist from Hong Kong. He now lives in Canada.   

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