NED President Carl Gershman. Photo: Handout

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) organization says it will not change the way it operates in Hong Kong or elsewhere, shrugging off Beijing’s threat of sanctions against non-governmental organizations from the United States and their activities in the former British colony.

Carl Gershman, the president of the NED, told reporters in Taipei last week that the non-profit soft power organization was not the reason people in Hong Kong were demanding freedom.

“[Hongkongers] are demanding freedom because China is trying to take it away from them … Obviously, they’re struggling for their own freedom. That’s something between people in Hong Kong and China. That has nothing to do with us,” said Gershman, disavowing the NED’s involvement.

He added that the raft of accusations from Beijing, including that the NED had been bankrolling the Hong Kong protests, were “false issues.”

Protesters in Hong Kong wave US flags as they march to the US consulate in the city on September 8, 2019. Photo: AFP/Vivek Prakash

However, the NED had reportedly provided three grants to activists and organizations in Hong Kong for preparing periodical reviews to be submitted to the UN for its commission on human rights and to encourage dialogue between the government and civil society.

“They’re very specific grants and have nothing to do with what is going on today,” said Gershman, adding that all the information about these grants was available on the NED’s website.

Also, he noted that the US Congress’ passage and Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act were largely gestures of support for the city, when asked if the new legislation would be effective in helping alleviate the territory’s crisis.

He said he hoped the protesters’ immediate objectives, such as ending alleged police violence and a probe into alleged brutality, could be met to defuse the tensions.

NED President Carl Gershman with Nathan Law, a leading pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker in Hong Kong. Photo: Twitter

The NED, along with the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the US International Republican Institute, US Human Rights Watch and US Freedom House, have been named by the Chinese foreign ministry as “abominable actors” instigating and fanning Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters to resort to violence and rebel against Beijing and the city’s government.

These US NGOs would be slapped with sanctions for their “meddling” in the running of Hong Kong, warned the ministry, without elaborating on what kind of punitive measures would be used.

In response, Gershman called Beijing’s policies for Xinjiang and Tibet a “cultural genocide,” borne out by Beijing’s concentration camps in Xinjiang and its imposition of secular rule over Tibetans.

He said in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping tasked the Chinese Communist Party with writing a secret communique, Document No. 9, to direct party members to intensify the struggle against the core principles of liberal democracy – constitutional government, universal values, civil society and a free media.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen awards Carl Gershman a medal in Taipei. Photo: Handout

Earlier, Gershman received an honorary medal from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen for his contribution to Taiwan-US relations.

He hailed Taiwan’s experience as proof that democratic principles would be compatible with Confucian culture, and that Taiwan’s democratic transition in the 1980s and 1990s could be referenced by other nations undergoing a similar transition from an authoritarian to a pluralistic system, such as Malaysia, Sudan, Tunisia and Armenia.

Read more: US NGOs, local tycoon funding HK protests: report

US envoys on commitments, risks in protecting HK

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