China is sounding the battle horn for a new US-China cold war by proposing a national security law for Hong Kong while the West is preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, an academic said yesterday.
Academia Sinica Institute of Taiwan History associate research fellow Wu Ruei-ren (吳叡人) made the comments at a news conference in Taipei, saying that he was representing the Economic Democracy Union’s research branch.
The resolution signals China’s abandonment of the “one country, two systems” framework, as it prepares to take full control of Hong Kong, ending the era of Hong Kong as an international financial center, which was made possible only through guarantees of democracy and rule of law, Wu said.
Photo: Chen Yu-fu, Taipei Times
Beijing’s decision was also influenced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) no longer needing Hong Kong to attract capital or to “launder” its money, he added.
The “one country, two systems” framework has worked too well in Hong Kong’s favor, positioning it as an “international treaty port,” which Beijing cannot tolerate, Wu said.
Beijing never considered Hong Kong’s handover from the UK to be complete and must take back its rightful property, he said.
Wu described the security legislation as “laced with desperation,” saying that China believes it is being backed into a corner, both domestically and internationally.
Domestically, the CCP is faced with a declining economy, a sharp increase in unemployment due to COVID-19 and internal political struggles, he said.
Internationally, China is facing increasing calls on the Internet for compensation for the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in Hubei Province; the rise of anti-China sentiment worldwide; an irreversible decoupling of the international economy and the Chinese economy; and the threat of a US-China cold war breaking out, Wu said.
Beijing believes that the “one country, two systems” framework no longer applies to Hong Kong, where protests have spiraled out of control, as some people have embraced the Hong Kong identity over the Chinese identity, he said.
International coverage of Hong Kong’s protests has also sparked a wave of anti-authoritarianism, which, despite not having the power to topple one of the largest autocratic regimes in the world, Beijing must stop, Wu said.
China’s textbook answer to domestic problems is to blame its woes on an external hostile force, which, in this instance, is Hong Kong, as the territory is the geopolitical crux of the US’ first island chain strategy, he said.
“Beijing is taking a calculated risk. It aims to act first and resolve international recriminations by claiming the act as a , a move patterned after the Crimea model, Wu said.
Beijing is indifferent to possible Western sanctions and the possible collapse of Hong Kong as a financial center, as it believes the West is already enacting such sanctions, he said.
The legislation has been timed in anticipation of the West’s inability to react, and capitalizes on the Hong Kong protest movement having lost steam due to the pandemic, he said.
“Hong Kong is the stage for the opening moves of a new US-China cold war, resulting in Hong Kong truly becoming a part of China, despite suffering greatly,” Wu said.
China firmly believes that while its actions would cause ripples in the short term, the West and Japan are too financially reliant on Hong Kong to allow it to collapse completely, Wu said.
Over time, Hong Kong would once again rebuild itself as an international financial center while remaining depoliticized, he said.
China would not stop with Hong Kong and Taiwan would inevitably become the jousting field on which the US-China cold war would take place, Wu said.
Taiwan must stand with Hong Kong, “before Hong Kong is free again, we are all Hong Kongers,” he said.
Wu also called on the government and people to remain as united against Chinese aggression as they have against the pandemic.
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