In a development sure to be analyzed deeply by International Relations experts across the globe, China promises retaliation over Hong Kong move by the United States after President Donald Trump announced restrictions on Chinese students in the US in protest against a new national security law in Hong Kong. Beijing’s reply will have regional and global consequences, which may exceed those feared to emerge from the Trade War.
China also said ongoing unrest in the US highlighted its severe problems of racism and police violence — and exposed Washington’s double standards in supporting Hong Kong’s protesters.
The two sides have clashed repeatedly on different topics and on Friday Trump said he would restrict Chinese graduate students and start reversing the special status enjoyed by semi-autonomous Hong Kong in customs and other areas.
Beijing slams US moves to put pressure on China
Beijing reacted angrily to the moves, saying it was “detrimental to both sides”.
“Any words and actions that harm the interests of China will be met with counter-attacks on the Chinese side,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press briefing Monday.
He said that Washington’s measures “seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine US-China relations”.
New Hong Kong law at the centre of latest US-China controversy
China’s rubber-stamp parliament recently approved the plans for the law, which would punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that endanger national security — as well as allow Chinese security agencies to operate openly in Hong Kong.
The move followed seven months of huge and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year.
It was condemned by pro-democracy activists and Western nations as another attempt to chip away at the city’s freedoms.
Hong Kong police on Monday banned an upcoming vigil marking the Tiananmen crackdown anniversary citing the coronavirus pandemic, the first time the gathering has been halted in three decades.
The candlelight June 4 vigil usually attracts huge crowds and is the only place on Chinese soil where such a major commemoration of the anniversary is still allowed.
New security law in Hong Kong: what is it?
The law will “guard against, stop and punish any separatism, subversion of the national regime, terrorist group activities and such behaviours that seriously harm national security”.
It would authorise Chinese lawmakers to directly enact long-delayed Hong Kong security legislation itself at a future date, rather than leaving it up to the territory’s administration.
China made clear it wanted the legislation passed after Hong Kong was rocked by seven months of massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests last year.
An initial bid to enact such legislation in 2003 was shelved after half a million people took to the streets in protest.
Wang Chen, deputy chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, told delegates Beijing must “take powerful measures to lawfully prevent, stop and punish” anti-China forces in Hong Kong.
The new law would punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that endanger national security, as well as allow mainland security agencies to operate openly in Hong Kong.
On Thursday, the final day of the congress, delegates endorsed plans for the law, with a higher body now tasked with formulating the specific legislation.
NPC Standing Committee Vice Chairman Wang Chen said last week that Hong Kong’s delays in implementing its own security law had forced the Chinese leadership to take action.
“More than 20 years after Hong Kong’s return (to China) relevant laws are yet to materialise due to the sabotage and obstruction by those trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large, as well as external hostile forces,” Wang said.
It is this law which has been in the eye of the storm of recent US-China relations, with the US ending Hong Kong’s special status, while China promises retaliation over Hong Kong.
China lashes out at US for ‘chronic’ racism
Chinese state media has latched on to the ongoing unrest in the United States, condemning the violence and the ‘double standards’ of the US when dealing with racism and protests in its own borders. Seeing as China promises retaliation over Hong Kong, the state media, run by the Communist Party, has unleashed a flurry of attacks on the United States.
Top Chinese Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily said in a commentary on Sunday evening that the U.S. move to slap sanctions on Hong Kong is nothing but a show of political posturing.
It highlighted that Washington announced those sanctions just as protests were escalating stateside, after the killing of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police. The paper questioned why the U.S. was “complaining about others” and “attacking” them instead of focusing on its own problems.
The commentary also noted that U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic have hit a new high.
In Beijing, Zhao also seized on ongoing anti-racism protests in the US to accuse the US of hypocrisy, calling racism “a chronic disease of American society”.
Washington’s response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police was a “textbook example of its world-famous double standards”, Zhao said.
“Why does the US lionize the so-called Hong Kong independence and black violence elements as heroes and activists, while calling people who protest against racism ‘rioters’?” Zhao asked.
Protests and rallies, sometimes violent, were sweeping the United States over the death of Floyd.
The US Department of Defense said that around 5,000 National Guard troops had been mobilized in 15 states as well as the capital, with another 2,000 on standby.
US China relations: devolving quickly into mudslinging
Beijing has long been infuriated by criticism from Western governments — especially the United States — over its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying took aim at Washington on Saturday.
"I can't breathe." pic.twitter.com/UXHgXMT0lk
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) May 30, 2020
“I can’t breathe,” she said on Twitter, with a screenshot of a tweet by US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus that had criticised China’s policy in Hong Kong.
Hua was quoting the words Floyd was heard saying repeatedly before his death in Minneapolis — after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The police officer has since been charged with third-degree murder.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk