US President Donald Trump signs an executive order to limit the ability of social media companies, including Twitter. (Photo: CGTN)
Amidst a night of flames and fury that swept across American cities in the wake of George Floyd's death, it is a total irony that President Trump lambasted China's new national security legislation for Hong Kong. "China's latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory's freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special treatment that we have afforded the territory since the handover," Trump declared on Friday.
Last September, when China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) was boiled in months-long violent demonstrations, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi wickedly derided it as "a beautiful sight to behold." Now America is beholding its own share of "beautiful sight."
But don't get me wrong. I am in no way making an analogy of those thugs in Hong Kong to those currently protesting Floyd's death in America. What lawmakers passed this week in Beijing concerns the national security of China. No government in the world would tolerate situations similar to what happened in Hong Kong. Just like for Trump, in the name of national security, nothing stands in the way.
Trump's proposed sanction, which includes revoking Hong Kong's preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory, tightened export controls on dual-use technologies, and targeted measures against some Chinese officials, is something that the HKSAR government has already been prepared for. According to Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, exports to the US only add up to 3.7 billion Hong Kong dollars, representing a paltry 2 percent of the local manufacturing and only 0.1 percent of the total exports from Hong Kong. Besides, Hong Kong doesn't import many dual-use American technologies anyway amid an already very restrictive export control regime in Washington.
The HKSAR, a regional financial and tourist hub in Asia, may have some economic challenges ahead, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But at least the political turmoil in terms of posing a potential security risk to China is likely to be gone for good. And this is a cost that China can and is willing to bear. Those politicians in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia can rant and rave as much as they like for the moment, but after a while, they will just have to get used to the new reality.
Trump is not going to be done with China yet. His preoccupation and obsession with China have escalated to a hysterical level. Before he made the announcement Friday, he put out a tweet that contained just one word – all in capital letters, which usually means something big in Trump's tweet style –"CHINA!"
Among the sanction measures, he has permanently stopped funding and withdrawn from the World Health Organization because he said the organization is too "China-centric." He also announced restrictions on Chinese nationals coming to study STEM subjects at US universities, which hurts both countries' interests.
The Sino-US relationship is experiencing a free fall and has fallen to a dangerously low level. Although he would not admit and concede, those aids around him, people like Pompeo and Navarro, know full well that his days in the White House are numbered. So those people will keep putting forward all the things they can to cause permanent damages to the Sino-US relations. They will cajole him into signing irreversible things that would bind the hands of the next incoming president.
We will have five months of the darkest days ahead. I strongly advise Beijing to refrain from tit-for-tat retaliation and just sit back and see how many more tricks this worst president in US history can cough up with.
He will be gone for sure in November. American people will vote him out. History will vote him out.