Washington threats over HK at its own cost

By Lau Siu-kai Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/3 12:04:25

The Chinese national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly above the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China, Aug 5, 2019. Photo:Xinhua

 

US President Donald Trump announced that he will end preferential treatment for Hong Kong at a press conference on Friday. At the same time, the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada in a joint statement expressed their deep "concern" over Beijing's move that the security legislation would undermine the principle of "one country, two systems".

Some Western politicians have made a series of unreasonable, domineering, arrogant, hypocritical and double standard statements about the national security legislation. Some of them have deliberately ignore the core of "one country, two systems" principle. They deliberately regard Hong Kong as an independent political entity, which is protected by Western forces and should serve the interests of the West. This is an intentional distortion of the fact.

So, will the West, as some Western politicians have said, defend Hong Kong, which they label the so-called "bastion of freedom?" This question can be answered from two dimensions.

First, in terms of foreign policy, the US today emphasizes short-term interests and is reducing its commitment with international affairs. It is decreasing its participation in international organizations, and unwilling to strive for other countries' and regions' interests, not to mention sacrificing its global leadership role.  

Second, the US' attitude toward Hong Kong affair stems from the current tension between the US and China. Some US officials hold a hostile attitude toward China, but with a premise that they don't have to pay a price for such stances. 

Understanding these two dimensions, it is not difficult to find that the US has many theoretical "tricks," which can be used to launch seemingly fierce political and public opinion attacks. But in practice, the US has much to lose if it imposes sanctions on both the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. 

Trump did not mention when or how the removal of Hong Kong's special status shall happen - the US itself has huge economic, trade and financial interests in Hong Kong. Any attack on the Chinese city's status as a separate customs territory and financial center will cause a blow to US businesses. 

In addition, if the US takes further actions in this direction, the Chinese central government will definitely strike back. This will lead to overall losses of the US. 

Besides, sanctions on Hong Kong will result in decline of US influence in the city. Indeed, Hong Kong is a free port for the world and it is not under US control. As long as the Asia-Pacific region becomes increasingly important in international politics and economy and China's position and influence in world affairs continues to rise, there's no way Trump's gambit will prevail. 

Some 85,000 US citizens reside in Hong Kong. If the US abandons Hong Kong with aggressive moves, its capital, firms, and personnel will be soon replaced by those from other parts of the world. Thus, it will be much more costly for the US to regain market share in Hong Kong.

In fact, American enterprises may not hold the same ground with Washington in this case. US financial and legal service institutions occupy a large share of businesses in Hong Kong, covering foreign exchange, stocks, futures, asset management, legal consulting and other fields. These assure them huge profits, which, rather than US domestic pressure, will affect their decision to leave or stay - not the new security law that will help their business run smoothly in the city. 

What US firms are more worried about is the indirect impact of Washington's crackdown on the Chinese city. Some of them may have already begun lobbying in Washington to stop the reckless move.

But people need to understand that China has numerous contingencies for reactions from the outside world. These will not change Chinese government and people's determination and decisions: to crush outside forces' intentions to overthrow Hong Kong.

It can be predicted that the pro-Western political forces in Hong Kong will experience a tough time. The national security legislation on Hong Kong will definitely not undermine the human rights and freedom of speech of Hong Kong people, but will blow the West and its proxy that threaten China's national security. 

The author is vice president of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies. [email protected]



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