As China closes in on Hong Kong, US threatens sanctions
With Hong Kong getting ready to pass a crucial national security law on behest of China, pro-democracy protests return.
Last week China announced a new national security law that will crack down on perceived secessionist, treasonous or terrorist activities, subversion of Chinese power and foreign interference. The law, which will considerably erode the freedoms and rights of Hong Kong’s citizens, is expected to be cleared without debate by Hong Kong’s National People Congress. There is a fear that these measures could effectively spell the end of the “one country, two systems” model.
This has triggered a return of the massive anti-government protests that have been a mainstay in Hong Kong for the past year. Thousands of armed police in riot geared have taken over the streets of Hong Kong as a new law on criminalising the ridicule of Chinese national anthem is expected to be passed.
This despite mounting pressure from the US which has threatened to revoke Hong Kong’s special status as a trading partner if it no longer functions as an autonomous entity. In addition to this, the US is considering passing a bill that would allow for sanctions against anyone who violates Hong Kong’s autonomy. President Donald Trump has also hinted at “doing something” which will be heard “very powerfully”, “before the end of the week”.
The White House had been rather quiet about the tensions in Hong Kong until recently and even President Trump was seen to have been somewhat restrained in any rhetoric or action in defense of Hong Kong. But this seems to be coming at an end with the legislative developments happening in both the countries. The US hopes to pass its bill on sanctions fast enough to effectively deter China from continuing on its current course in Hong Kong.
But with China looking to consolidate its power in its spheres of influence while the world is busy staving off the pandemic, analysts don’t expect it to back off based on these threats by the US. After all, its actions in Hong Kong and the response to it would set a precedent for others in the region that are currently battling to keep China out of their affairs.
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