Tag: China

Lawmakers from US, EU form alliance to counter China
Americas, Europe

Lawmakers from US, EU form alliance to counter China

Following recent Chinese overtures in Hong Kong, in a unique effort, Members of Parliament (MP) from the US and Europe have formed an alliance to look into the issue.

18 MPs from the US and Europe have come together to form the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). The cross-continent initiative will also look into China’s role in the COVID outbreak.

US Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez are part of the alliance. Other representatives are from the European Parliament, the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Sweden.

The group will work towards a “strategic approach” on issues about China.

Rubio, without mincing words, said, “China, under the Chinese Communist Party, presents a global challenge.” The IPAC will coordinate the response to that “challenge.”

The alliance will work towards safeguarding the international rules-based order, uphold human rights, and promote fair trade. The 18 member body will also work for strengthening security and promoting national integrity.

The US has objected to discriminatory trade practices of China in the past. Recently tension between the two has flared up over how China handled the novel Coronavirus crisis. The death toll in the US, from the viral infection, has crossed over a hundred thousand.

The US government has also raised concern over China tightening grip over the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.

China in late May announced that it would impose National Security law in the former British colony. The US, UK, Australia reacted sharply over this move. The US announced that it would take steps that might alter Hong Kong’s special trade and economic relationship with the US.

Recently the US Congress passed a bill allowing the US President to take steps against Chinese human rights violations against the Uyghurs.

Senator Rubio and Menendez are known for their hardline stand against China. The two had introduced the bill to impose sanctions against China in then Congress in 2019, against human rights violations in Xinjiang province.

China has increased its patrol in the South China Sea. It is also intruding on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens
Asia Pacific Focus

In lieu of China imposing new law in Hong Kong, UK to offer “citizenship route” to HK citizens

China has been facing criticism over the new law imposing on Hong Kong that would devoid the country of its “independent” status and freedom to “protest”, with HK coming directly under the jurisdiction of China mainland.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Times in an interview that UK would offer a route of citizenship to HK residents in case the security law by China is imposed on the country.

UK and other allies like U.S. and Australia are already discussing on the mode of action and change in relations with HK, if China imposes the new law on Hong Kong – in which case the same relations with HK would be unlawful as would be undermining Beijing’s authority.

On Wednesday, UK PM Boris Johnson confirmed that in case of law imposition, the Hong Kong citizens with BNO (British National Overseas) passports would be allowed to enter UK without any visa and allowed to stay up to a year, as against 6 months as per earlier laws. The passport holders would be further allowed to work in UK as an extension to immigration rights.

Approximately 350,000 Hong Kong citizens have a valid BNO passport and more than 2.6 million are eligible for it.

PM Boris Johnson clarified that if need be Britain would take this step for HK citizens willingly and would not “walk away”.

“If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative,” PM Johnson told the Times.

Lord Patten, the last British governor to Hong Kong supported UK’s stand as being “politically and morally right.” He accused China of its continuous “bullying” tactics. He said that it is not against China but the fact that China’s communist regime cannot stand the HK’s policies – that is everything which President Xi Jinping dislikes.

He further said that this is the “era marking beginning of realism with China.”

Hong Kong had been the colony of Britain which was handed over to China in 1997. According to the terms of treaty, Hong Kong enjoys certain freedoms which are devoid in China mainland. These set of freedom policies are set in a mini-constitution known as Basic Law.

BNO passports were granted to HK citizens who were born before handover to China in 1997. These passports allow holders to enjoy many perks and protection from UK foreign policies, they are still not eligible to work or stay for more than 6 months in UK.

The proposed action under immigration and citizenship route by UK for Hong Kong citizens is believed to offer some respite and opportunities for people fearing China law implementation.

The Philippines ‘unsuspends’ military pact with the US
Asia Pacific Focus

The Philippines ‘unsuspends’ military pact with the US

Earlier this year, the Philippines had said it will pull out of the Visiting Forces Agreement signed with the US but has now reversed this before the termination could come into effect.

The Visiting Forces Agreement, which allowed for the US and the Philippines to conduct joint training exercises, has been extended for another six months on the behest of President Rodrigo Duterte. This comes as a blow to China which has been hoping to capitalise on the rift between the two countries to increase its geopolitical power in the region. In benefits the US to maintain the status quo, as the Philippines is the only US treaty ally bordering the heavily contested South China Sea, home to some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Duterte had angrily signalled the end of the pact in February this year, triggered by the US’ refusal to grant a tourist visa to Senator and former police chief Ronald de la Rosa who is the architect of the Philippines’ controversial drug war and the associated extrajudicial killings. The Filipino administration had already been trying to distance itself from the US and warm up to China instead, in order to invite more Chinese investment.

But in light of China’s recent moves in the South China Sea and the economic consequences of the pandemic making it difficult for the Philippines to devote more resources towards defence, the administration probably thought it sensible to retain the deal. The administration announced that the decision was made “in light of political and other developments in the region”. Washington and Manila had 180 days, i.e until August, to reinstate the deal.

Under the pact, Philippines forces have been receiving training from Americans to combat terrorism and drug trafficking through the hundreds of large-scale joint exercises conducted annually. But Duterte had earlier criticised the terms of the 21-year-old deal as unfair, saying the Americans took their modern weapons and technology once the training concluded.

Hong Kong Security Law: Britain asks China to “step back”
Geopolitics

Hong Kong Security Law: Britain asks China to “step back”

The British government on 2 June asked China to “step back from the brink” and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy. It also warned that if the former British colony’s autonomy is compromised, the government will offer British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders citizenship to those who are settled in the region.

The statement was made by the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in the House of Commons. The House held a physical meeting despite ongoing corona pandemic to highlight that autonomy of its former colony is of great importance.

The leader also added that China should “respect” its international obligations.

China’s proposal to enact stringent security laws for Hong Kong has attracted sharp reactions from the US and UK.

The Foreign Secretary warned that if China proposes to enact such a law, Britain will also look to at its other options as they have a responsibility towards Hong Kong. Secretary Raab added if any legislation impacting the autonomy of Hong Kong is announced, they can initiate change for the BNO passport holders.

When Britain signed the Joint Declaration in 1984 with China, granting BNO status to Hong Kong residents was part of the deal. The Joint Declaration was arrangement entered into with China before Hong Kong’s handover.

Hong Kong residents with a BNO passport can seek UK consular support in third countries. BNO Passport holders can also enter Britain visa-free and stay in the UK for up to six months.

If the proposed security law is enacted, the UK will allow Hong Kong BNO passport holders to stay beyond six months. The minister also added that those passport holders could also explore the option of getting citizenship in Britain.

China’s National People’s Congress on 22 May proposed a new security law for Hong Kong. After six days, the Congress adopted this proposal.

The new legislation, according to the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, will forbid “treason, secession, sedition, and subversion.”

The British minister described the new law would threaten the “One Country Two Systems,” arrangement. This system makes Hong Kong stay autonomous.

Hong Kong residents fear that their freedom will be compromised if this law is implemented.

The Boris Johnson government is talking to the US and Australia to mount pressure on China to reconsider its decision.

China’s Hong Kong law escalates tensions for EU in the world order
Asia Pacific Focus

China’s Hong Kong law escalates tensions for EU in the world order

China’s handling of Hong Kong has raised grave concerns with the European Union governments, implying that it will affect the EU-China relations. Furthermore, the EU is facing potential complications with the United States over Washington’s unprecedented response to the tensions between China and Hong Kong. This dilemma has emerged for the EU amid inevitable efforts of post-pandemic recovery and continuing tussle with the UK on a major foreign policy issue since Brexit.

During a meeting with foreign ministers of the 27 nations of the bloc on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the need for dialogue over Hong Kong and to discuss with Chinese authorities about the repercussions of the move on some issues of mutual interest. EU’s cautious statement came after strong condemnation from the United States, Britain, Australia, and Canada against Chinese legislation against Hong Kong’s freedom.

Notably, EU’s relations with China have been facing certain strains amid the Coronavirus pandemic and ongoing Sino-US cold war which can pose adverse consequences in the world order.

Responding to China’s move in Hong Kong, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US will no longer treat Hong Kong as autonomous for trade and economic purposes, which will have drastic impacts on the economy of the city. Earlier, US President Trump also announced to impose sanctions on China over its Hong Kong approach. On the other hand, British foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the UK will extend visa rights for as many as 300,000 Hong Kong British national (overseas) passport holders if China continues with the repressive laws. Meanwhile, Retaliating to international criticism of its national security law on Hong Kong, China on Friday threatened countermeasures against the UK and the US.

Significantly, the EU has been divided on China amid the ongoing circumstances. While European governments have been ensuring measures to tighten their defence against Chinese investment in Europe, certain leaders of the bloc raising questions against China’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though world governments have been critical of China’s security law, the European Union has maintained a diplomatic stand. At the same time, the bloc is making efforts to steer clear from the US-China spat.

China’s National People’s Congress on May 28 approved a resolution to impose controversial national security laws on Hong Kong which would ban any activities that would endanger China’s national security, secession, and subversion of state power in the city. Critics have been calling China’s move as a big blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom that has been enshrined in the territory’s laws since 1997.

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