HK measures to hurt US badly

By Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/26 23:23:40

Lau Siu-kai, a vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, in an exclusive interview with the Global Times Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

The US may be able to launch a vicious word war against China on the Hong Kong issue, but it's impossible for the US to strike heavily at China at a low cost. Most measures cost the US too much with little benefit, which would make it suffer significantly, a top Hong Kong think tank advisor told the Global Times. 

If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes forward sanctions on Hong Kong in response to the national security law, it would be unreasonable double-standard behavior, as US politicians intentionally misunderstand the real meaning of "one country, two systems" and consider Hong Kong an independent political entity protected by the West and serving its interests, said Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Lau made the remarks after Pompeo on Friday called China's proposed national security legislation on Hong Kong region "disastrous" and said it could have an impact on the favorable economic treatment the region receives from the US.

Pompeo deliberately ignored the fact that the Chinese Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region co-shaped the legal foundation of Hong Kong's rule of law, ignored the fact that the legislature under the Basic Law has never been monopolized by the SAR, Lau said. 

Would the US fight for Hong Kong? Lau said that for the moment, the Trump administration has been irrational, and its decisions have changed so often that it is difficult to speculate. 

However, from a rational analysis, there are two aspects to be taken into account, according to Lau.

He explained that, first, the Trump administration's foreign policy now places short-term interests first, reducing participation in and commitment to international affairs and unwilling to pay for the interests of other places, not even to mention "sacrifice"; the attitude of the US toward Hong Kong affairs is not essentially the relationship between the US and Hong Kong, but the relationship between the US and China. The current US administration is extremely hostile to China, and its reduced participation in international affairs does not mean less strength against China, provided it does not have to pay a heavy price of its own.

To sum up, in theory, the US has many countermeasures, but in fact, most measures will cost the US too much with little benefit, which would make it suffer significantly, Lau told the Global Times. 

One of the most discussed tricks is to scrap Hong Kong's status as a "separate customs territory." But the US has a large share of economic and financial interests in Hong Kong, and any move to crack down on Hong Kong's separate customs territory will also be a heavy blow to the US, said Lau, noting that the heavier the measures, the more the US will suffer. 

In addition, the central government won't sit idly to US tricks, but will take strong countermeasures, Lau warned, adding those countermeasures won't be limited to Hong Kong, but could extend to additional taxes on US commodities and services. 

All those will eventually result in the decline of the US presence on Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a free port, and the US alone cannot manipulate its development, Lau noted. As long as China and the Asia-Pacific region still play an important role worldwide, any US sanctions on Hong Kong will be short-lived, he said.

Hong Kong will still be a hot catch for global talent and capital. So if US capital gives this territory up, the void it left will soon be filled up by capital from the Chinese mainland and other countries, Lau said. 

US companies in Hong Kong and the Trump administration hold different stances: the financial institutes and legal service organizations account for huge shares, covering markets such as foreign exchange, stocks, futures and asset management, and have profited greatly, he said.

He believes that unless the US legislature forces them to withdraw from Hong Kong, they would decide whether to stay in the region considering the return of investment, legal system, stability in Hong Kong and attraction of the Chinese market. Instead of worrying about the "national security law," they would worry more about the effect from a US attack on China. "I believe they have already started to lobby," he said.

Considering these situations, the "national security law" might meet less resistance from foreign countries after it takes effect. But the voices are "noisy" because they wish to force the Chinese government to change its decision.

However, nothing could change the Chinese government's determination, because a key target of legislating the "national security law" is to crack down on the existence of the US political forces in Hong Kong, compress the space for US forces and their representatives in Hong Kong, and prevent them from starting riots and subversion.

Pro-US political forces' life in Hong Kong would be increasingly difficult. The "national security law" will not harm rights and freedom of speech of Hongkongers, but will hit the freedom of the US and their representatives who damage China's national security, Lau noted. 


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