Anti-Brexit Strategist Hired by CCP Puppet Govt in Hong Kong to Lead PR Campaign

Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Carrie Lam (centre R) arrives with China's President Xi Jinping (front L) before being sworn in as the territory's new leader at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong on July 1, 2017. Lam became Hong Kong's new leader on July 1, …
ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images

The Hong Kong government — a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — has hired an anti-Brexit strategist in an effort to revive its dwindling global reputation after the imposition of a draconian national security law which stripped the city of its freedoms and autonomy.

In June, it was revealed that the Hong Kong government awarded the public relations firm Consulum a £5 million contract to help bolster the image of the city’s government in British media.

On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that the PR campaign “Relaunch Hong Kong” will be headed up by Ryan Coetzee, the former director of strategy of the anti-Brexit Remain campaign in the 2016 referendum, which sought to keep the United Kingdom bound to the undemocratic European Union.

The former strategist for the South African Democratic Alliance party previously worked as the director of strategy for the Nick Clegg-led Liberal Democrats until the 2015 general election.

Coetzee left the party following a disastrous performance in the election, in which the Liberal Democrats retained just eight of their 57 seats in the House of Commons.

Following the failed Remain campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, Mr Coetzee joined Consulum, where he has been actively working for the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, to improve the international reputation of the Islamic autocracy.

The campaign to revive the reputation of the Hong Kong government — an undemocratically installed tool of the communist regime in Beijing — will focus on highlighting “Hong Kong’s recovery and help rebuild confidence in Hong Kong as a place to invest, do business, work and live”, the government said in a statement.

The puppet government claimed that the territory had failed to “mobilise the community to support law enforcement actions and condemn intimidation, doxing, vandalism and the criminal and violent behaviour of rioters” during the pro-democracy protests.

“Addressing these perceptions to effectively tell the Hong Kong story to targeted global audiences will be critical to support Hong Kong’s economic recovery,” the statement added.

When asked about Coetzee’s involvement in the campaign, a spokesman for the consulting company told The Guardian: “Consulum is proud of the work that we do for our clients, developing programmes that help countries and governments improve delivery, build capacity, promote economic outcomes and manage change. We operate at the pinnacle of our industry and with the highest standards and integrity, which is the very basis upon which Consulum was founded.”

The move comes as prominent British MPs have called for Hong Kong’s Cheif Executive Carrie Lam to be added to the list of 49 targeted Magnitsky sanctions that were announced by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Monday.

The Magnitsky sanctions target individuals within corrupt governments — but the published list failed to include a single Chinese government official.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith questioned: “Would he be prepared to follow through with these, no matter who these individuals are, no matter how high they go, even if that meant starting with Carrie Lam — whose family [members], I understand, have the privilege of British passports?”

“I strongly urge the foreign secretary to look at another clause which would include the repression of democracy and those rights of assembly and freedom of speech and therefore look very carefully at whether Carrie Lam shouldn’t be on the list,” Labour MP Chris Bryant added.

Mr Raab did not exclude the possibility of adding Lam to the list, saying: “We will look to progress and develop and finetune and enhance this regime as we proceed.”

Tensions have been mounting between the United Kingdom and China following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to grant a path to citizenship to up to three million Hong Kongers, as well as the British government’s push to oust Chinese tech firm Huawei from its 5G network, amid espionage and security concerns.

On Monday, the Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, warned that expelling Huawei could trigger a trade dispute with the CCP, saying that Chinese businesses “are all watching”.

“We want to be your friend, we want to be your partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country, you have to bear the consequences,” Mr Liu threatened.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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