US’ sanction threat over China no bigger than bluffing

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/26 19:42:45

Photo: GT

A draft decision to introduce national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region came under deliberation at the National People's Congress during the ongoing two sessions, China's most important annual political event. 

White House National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said on Sunday that the US government may impose sanctions on China if the latter implements the legislation. The US State Department has also hinted it might reconsider Hong Kong's special status in US law.

Canceling Hong Kong's separate customs territory status seems to be the biggest card that the US has. But actually, it's nothing but bluffing. Hong Kong's status as a separate customs territory is recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and established by China's law rather than granted by the US. It has maintained this status after China became a member of the organization in 2001. The status is not granted by the US. Washington's unilateral threat will actually violate WTO rules.

Currently, Washington is seeking to create a united stance with its allies in a bid to effectively deter China. Yet joint sanctions are not anticipated to be achieved, as Washington's practices go against globalization as well as the national interests of its allies. 

In the current pattern of globalization, China is closely connected with the rest of the world, especially in economic terms. In addition to the US, many developed economies, including many of US' allies, have maintained close economic ties with Chinese markets via Hong Kong. They have vast business interests in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

Although some US allies, such as the EU and the UK, vocally bolster US' claims to sanction China, when it comes to actual moves, it seems impossible that they will really follow US measures. 

If Washington rashly takes actions in calling off Hong Kong's separate customs territory status, it would be a deadly blow to China-US bilateral ties. Trade negotiations between the two countries are still ongoing, and the US cannot recklessly play this card as it will severely undermine the country itself. The move could accelerate US' decoupling with the rest of the world and thus would impair the vast commercial interests of US companies in Hong Kong. This will in turn generate negative impacts for President Donald Trump's reelection efforts. It can be treated only as wishful thinking by certain media-hungry US hawks.

Calling off Hong Kong's separate customs territory status will be Washington's last resort to intervening in Hong Kong affairs. If it were implemented, the US will have no other anchor to suppress China with affairs related to Hong Kong.

Certain Western media outlets and analysts argue the national security legislation will undermine the "one country, two systems" principle and weaken Hong Kong's position as an international financial center. This is a cliché. 

The legislation targets a very narrow category of acts that gravely jeopardize national security, mainly from secessionist organizations, radicals, and illegal foreign meddling. Their rampant activities since June 2019 have seriously impaired Hong Kong's economy and security. The implementation of the national security law can guarantee Hong Kong's prosperity, rule of law, high degree of autonomy, and position as a global financial hub.

Hong Kong affair is China's internal affair. External interference is not and will never be allowed. However, the West has been meddling with China's domestic affairs for decades. Western countries discriminate China on matters of ideology and they assume the East is barbarous and backward. They have long been seeking to transform China into a so-called democracy as they wish, so that they can pursue more interests from the country. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, China is rising on its own path. For some in the West, this is inconsistent with their will. These forces in the West therefore have altered course to sanction China in an attempt to hinder the country's development. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Lu Yuanzhi based on an interview with Tian Feilong, associate professor at the Law School of Beihang University and a member of Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

blog comments powered by Disqus