Sun, Nov 17, 2019 - Page 6 News List

China’s risky Hong Kong endgame

By Pei Minxin 裴敏欣

What Xi and the CCP seem not to understand is how much this approach would hurt them. After all, China is likely to lose much of its access to the global financial system as countries revise their relationships with the new Hong Kong.

Already, the US House of Representatives has adopted a bill that, if also passed by the Senate, would mandate an annual review by the US Department of State to determine whether Hong Kong remains sufficiently autonomous to justify its special trading status under US law.

As China’s central government tramples on Hong Kong’s rights, more Western democracies — including those that have hesitated to support US President Donald Trump’s efforts to contain China — are likely to support comprehensive economic sanctions.

It should be obvious that this would be a devastating development for Xi and the CCP, whose legitimacy depends on continued economic growth and improvements in living standards. However, in a country whose top leadership brooks no dissent, there are few safeguards against bad policymaking.

Two years ago, Xi declared that by the time the People’s Republic of China celebrates its centenary in 2049, it should be a “great modern socialist country” with an advanced economy. The fourth plenum communique reiterated this objective. However, if China’s central government reneges on its obligations to Hong Kong, that goal is likely to become little more than a distant dream.

Pei Minxin is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a nonresident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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