In the midst of the pandemic and lockdowns, both equally relentless almost throughout the world, there has emerged an awesome trilateral cocktail of the United States of America, the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong. Donald Trump has on Saturday accused China of breaking its word over Hong Kong by imposing its national security laws and entrenching its position further still in its protectorate.
Small wonder that the government in Hong Kong has lashed out at the US President’s plan to strip the city of its special status. Over the weekend, President Trump has let it be known that China’s move on Hong Kong was a “tragedy for the world”.
He did not speak in terms of imposing sanctions, but said the announcement would “affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong”. The repercussions of Beijing’s geostrategy are bound to be profound in the year of the US presidential election; six months ahead, the prologue to the swelling theme has been sufficiently stormy.
Trump has contended that the city or island nation, if you will, no longer warranted economic privileges and some officials could face sanctions. This has promptly been countered by Hong Kong’s security minister, John Lee, who has addressed a robust signal to Washington and has thus quite obviously played to the Beijing gallery ~ “Hong Kong’s government cannot be threatened and will push ahead with the new laws.”
Defensive of America no less has been the Justice minister, Teresa Cheng, who has readily binned Trump’s actions as “completely false and wrong”, saying the national security laws, imposed by China, were legal and necessary. In terms of rhetoric, Mr Trump was remarkably tough, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from the mainland by proposing the national security legislation.
The territory, he said, no longer warranted US economic privileges. “We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,” Trump said, adding that Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for “smothering ~ absolutely smothering ~ Hong Kong’s freedom”.
Saturday’s announcement by the US President has deeply upset the economic circuit in Hong Kong, and it may not be easy to cope with the fallout. To the extent that the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said Saturday was “a sad day” for China’s freest city. The decision to begin revoking Hong Kong’s special status was sparked by growing fears that Beijing is prematurely stamping out freedoms. Of most recent concern is a plan to ban subversion and acts endangering national security after months of prodemocracy protests last year.