lørdag 30. mai 2020

Trump announces unprecedented action against China

President Donald Trump launched a blistering attack on Beijing Friday, naming misdeeds that range from espionage to the violation of Hong Kong's freedoms, and announced a slew of retaliatory measures that will plunge US-China relations deeper into crisis.

"They've ripped off the United States like no one has ever done before," Trump said of China, as he decried the way Beijing has "raided our factories" and "gutted" American industry, casting Beijing as a central foil he will run against in the remaining months of his re-election campaign.
Trump appeared in the Rose Garden at the end of a week when the US hit 100,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic and as massive protests roiled Minneapolis after the death in police custody an African American man, but mentioned neither, focusing instead on casting Beijing as an existential geopolitical threat. Trump called out China for "espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many," announced steps to protect American investors from Chinese financial practices, accused Beijing of "unlawfully claiming territory in the Pacific Ocean" and threatening freedom of navigation.

China threatens 'countermeasures' against UK over Hong Kong crisis

Beijing has responded with defiance to international criticism of its Hong Kong national security law, threatening countermeasures against the UK and the US and describing Washington’s efforts to raise the issue at the UN security council as “pointless”.

One day after Beijing’s legislature approved plans to move ahead with sweeping anti-sedition legislation in Hong Kong, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned countries that Hong Kong is “purely an internal Chinese matter” and that “no other country has the right to interfere”. In response to the vote, the British foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said the UK would extend the rights of up to 300,000 British national overseas passport holders in Hong Kong if China persisted with the law.

Hong Kong officials lash out at Trump plan to strip city of special status

Senior Hong Kong government officials have criticised moves by Donald Trump to strip the city of its special status in a bid to punish China for imposing national security laws on the global financial hub. Speaking hours after Trump said the city no longer warranted economic privileges and some officials could face sanctions, security minister John Lee told reporters on Saturday that Hong Kong’s government could not be threatened and would push ahead with the new laws.

“I don’t think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right,” Lee said. Justice minister Teresa Cheng said the basis for Trump’s actions was “completely false and wrong”, saying the need for national security laws were legal and necessary.

In some of his toughest rhetoric yet, Trump said Beijing had broken its word over Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from Beijing, by proposing the national security legislation and that the territory no longer warranted US economic privileges.

Chinese general says Beijing will ‘resolutely smash’ any separatist moves by Taiwan

Taking Taiwan by force is an option for Beijing and it will take steps to “resolutely smash” any separatist moves made by the island, a top PLA general said on Friday. At the same event, Li Zhanshu, the third most senior leader of the ruling Communist Party, said using force was a last resort and Beijing had not given up on peaceful reunification with the island, which it considers a part of China.

They were speaking at a gathering in Beijing to mark the 15th anniversary of the Anti-Secession Law that gives the People’s Liberation Army a legal basis to take military action against Taiwan if it is deemed to have seceded.

China eyes ‘diversified’ relations as US becomes increasingly hostile, Beijing economic adviser says

China will seek “more diversified” external relations during a period when “globalisation is at a low ebb” to be able to thrive in a world where the United States is becoming increasingly hostile, according to a senior adviser to the Chinese leadership. Maintaining China’s place in the global supply chain will be a key theme for Beijing after the coronavirus, especially since Washington is becoming more aggressive in containing China’s rise, Cai Fang, a vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a major state-funded think tank, told the South China Morning Post.

“There are many things we can do … we need to talk with the Americans while we struggle against them,” Cai said on Wednesday. “And we should not put all our eggs in one basket. “We’ll seek more diversified international cooperation and industrial supply chains. The faster the US seeks decoupling, the quicker China will embrace the trend.”

What lies behind Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in Hong Kong? Fear, not arrogance

Many people believe that Beijing’s decision this week to introduce national security legislation for Hong Kong reflects a confident China that feels it has weathered Covid-19 and that, given the West’s distraction with its own virus crisis, now is the best time to act. I don’t see it that way.

Over the past few months, the Western media have reported on the bevy of dangers facing China. These are the same dangers that those who say China is acting out of a sense of confidence, even hubris, trumpet regularly as signs that the country is in trouble. What are they? The economy is
faltering, with 2019 marking the first major decline in gross domestic product in four decades, and many say it may not recover quickly. The virus may not have been eradicated – China just locked down 100 million people in the Northeast. Unemployment is rising – the National Bureau of Statistics reported that youth unemployment was 13.8 per cent in April.

Hong Kong national security law: all eyes on the US, but Beijing holds all the cards

China’s decision to impose the national security law directly on Hong Kong, passed by the annual session of the  National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday, has once again plunged the city into deep turmoil and sparked a renewed backlash from the international community.

The timing of the move may appear sudden but it is not entirely unexpected. It has been in the works for months after the anti-Beijing and anti-government protests which started in June threw the city into chaos for the latter half of last year. More than anything, these protests heightened fears among Chinese leaders that Beijing was losing control over the once-freewheeling city, 23 years after it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Trump’s plan to strip Hong Kong of its special status is light on detail, but economists still fear for city’s future

US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that he plans to begin stripping Hong Kong of its special trading status left many important questions about the city’s future as a financial and commercial hub unanswered. Hong Kong officials played down the impact of Trump’s vow “to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China”, noting the city’s direct trade with the US is only a very small part of its economy.

While Trump said it would affect “the full range of agreements” the US had with Hong Kong “with few exceptions”, he did not set a timeline, nor did he announce specific details as to which economic privileges would be removed, leaving uncertainty over what the US would actually do.

fredag 29. mai 2020

UK considers opening citizenship 'path' for 300,000+ Hong Kong residents, if China pursues security law

The UK government is mulling giving greater visiting rights to certain Hong Kong residents, unless the Chinese government suspends a controversial proposed national security law. Such a move could make it easier for those residents to one day apply for UK citizenship. The offer would apply only to Hong Kongers who possess a document known as the British National Overseas (BNO) passport, which was granted to residents who registered for it prior to Britain handing Hong Kong back to China in 1997. 

More than 314,000 BNO holders reside in the semi-autonomous territory, according to the Home Office. Their status currently entitles them to seek consular assistance from the UK, but is not equivalent to British citizenship. On Thursday, Britain's Home Office Secretary, Priti Patel, said she and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab were exploring ways to provide more rights for BNO passport holders, including extending a "path to citizenship."

The US could end its special relationship with Hong Kong. But for western companies, it's complicated

The United States may soon terminate its special economic and trading relationship with Hong Kong. Experts say losing the status won't cause an immediate exodus of big western companies from the global financial hub, but it could further erode what made Hong Kong so attractive in the first place. The latest blow to the city's reputation came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the country no longer views Hong Kong as sufficiently independent from China, which for more than 20 years has governed the city as a semi-autonomous region with freedoms not available on the mainland.

US warship again challenges China's South China Sea claims

The US Navy once again challenged Chinese claims in the South China Sea Thursday, sailing the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mustin near the Paracel Islands. The US Navy has twice sailed warships in a similar effort to challenge Chinese claims to the Paracel and Spratly islands in the last month and carrying out another such operation near the Paracels in March.

The increased operational tempo comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing on a range of issues including the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to exert greater control over Hong Kong and responsibility for the coronavirus. "On May 28 (local time), USS Mustin (DDG 89) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law," Lt. Anthony Junco, a spokesperson for the US Navy's 7th Fleet, said in a statement. "By conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are beyond what China can lawfully claim as its territorial sea," the statement added.

China is embracing a new brand of foreign policy. Here's what wolf warrior diplomacy means

There is a new brand of diplomacy taking hold in Beijing and its chief architects have a suitably fierce nickname to match their aggressive style -- they are the wolf warriors. It's a phrase that is now used widely in Chinese state-run media as well as Western publications, and it was made clear last weekend that its proponents have the full support of the country's top diplomat.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing Sunday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China would now push back against "deliberate insults." "We never pick a fight or bully others. But we have principals and guts. We will push back against any deliberate insult, resolutely defend our national honor and dignity, and we will refute all groundless slander with facts," said Wang, responding to a question from CNN. But what is "wolf warrior" diplomacy, what does the name mean and where did it originate?

Amid the Pandemic, Is Hong Kong Facing a Different Kind of Death?

In the middle of a pandemic that has killed more than three hundred and fifty thousand people worldwide, what does it mean for a city to die? Last Friday morning, at the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, the Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, put forward a national-security law that would ban “treason, secession, sedition, and subversion” in the semiautonomous city of Hong Kong. Under the law, Beijing has the authority to bypass the territory’s own parliament to crack down on any activity that it defines as threatening to its political legitimacy. Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, called the measure a “death knell.” On Twitter, journalists, pundits, and politicians made similar pronouncements. Lo Kin-hei, a leader of the Democratic Party, tweeted, “No matter how prepared we are to witness the death of our loved city, and no matter how many times it felt like it is dying, it still pains me to see another part of the remaining flesh is gone.”

On Sunday, thousands of people, wearing protective masks, took to Hong Kong’s main thoroughfares in demonstrations similar to those that have convulsed the city since last year, when Beijing proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed people arrested in Hong Kong to be tried on the mainland. On Wednesday, protests erupted again, when the local legislature began debating a bill that would criminalize disrespect of the Chinese national anthem. Police in surgical masks fired repeated rounds of pepper pellets into the air and rounded up dozens of people, including schoolchildren.

torsdag 28. mai 2020

Chinese parliament approves controversial Hong Kong security law

China’s legislature has approved a decision to force a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, in an extraordinary and unprecedented move aimed at bringing the semi-autonomous territory further under Beijing’s control. On Thursday, China’s National People’s Congress voted on a decision that paves the way for sweeping anti-sedition laws to be directly enacted in Hong Kong.

The law, aimed at stamping out protests that have racked Hong Kong for the past year, would bar subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference” and terrorism, charges often used in mainland China to silence dissidents and other political opponents.

The legislation, which has been described as a “death knell” for Hong Kong, would also allow Beijing’s security forces to operate in the city.The move has prompted widespread condemnation and anxiety inside and outside Hong Kong about Beijing’s plans for the city, where similar legislation was shelved in 2003 because of widespread public opposition. Critics worry it will be used against critics of the government.

A history of resistance: key dates in Hong Kong's battle with China

Beijing’s rubber-stamp parliament is to vote to move forward with a national security law for Hong Kong, in an unprecedented push that many fear will result in silencing critics of the government in the territory. The legislation, which would bypass the semi-autonomous territory’s legislature as well as widespread opposition to such measures, comes on Thursday after years of controversial government-proposed measures aimed at bringing Hong Kong more in line with Beijing’s wishes.

Mass demonstrations have erupted in response to each of these plans over the decades, bringing them to a halt, as well as solidifying civil society and laying the foundation for future protests. These are the key moments of resistance in Hong Kong’s history.

China prepared for international backlash over Hong Kong national security law

Beijing is “prepared for the worst case scenario” of an international backlash following the Trump administration’s decision to certify that Hong Kong is no longer suitably autonomous from mainland China. Chinese government advisers said China expected tensions with the US to escalate with the passage by the  National People’s Congress of a resolution calling for a national security law in the city. But Beijing’s retaliation would depend on US action, they said.

“These threats [by the US] are what we expected. But they are futile in preventing the passing of the law. We have prepared for the worst case scenario,” said Ruan Zongze, senior research fellow at China Institute of International Studies, a think tank under China’s foreign ministry.

Will Hong Kong’s rule of law survive the challenge of Beijing’s national security legislation?

With the expected passage of the National People’s Congress resolution on national security this week, mainland and Hong Kong officials assure us that the proposed law will be narrowly drafted and pose no threat to basic freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong. This assurance should be doubted.

The claim that public officials are reliable people who will only go after the bad guys underlies the People’s Republic of China’s tradition of rule by law. It presumes that a society of laws is one where officials issue the right directives and everyone else is bound to follow them. Such use of law as only an instrument of control is not the rule of law as known in Hong Kong.

Rather, the rule of law primarily aims to maintain public order by ensuring that officials comply with properly enacted laws in carrying out their duties. For common law Hong Kong, under the Basic Law, such laws should be the product of a proper legislative process with enforcement and oversight in the ordinary courts.

Two Sessions 2020: national security law for Hong Kong a step closer after NPC endorses resolution

China’s top legislature has endorsed a resolution authorising its Standing Committee to tailor-make a
national security law for Hong Kong. Thursday afternoon’s vote took place just before the closing of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which started last Friday.

The resolution, officially known as the “draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security”, was approved with 2,878 deputies from around the country voting in favour and one voting against, while six abstained. It came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a potentially huge blow to Hong Kong, told the Congress the city was no longer suitably autonomous from China.