China fully prepared for ‘a long fight’ with West on HK: experts
Published: Mar 14, 2021 09:28 PM
Hong Kong photo: VCG

Hong Kong photo: VCG

 The struggle between China and the West, especially with the US and the UK, on Hong Kong will continue and likely become "a long fight" due to the latest electoral reform plan for the city passed by China's top legislature, Chinese experts say, as China on Sunday, through diplomatic and political channels, firmly refuted the latest joint and separate statements issued by the G7, the EU, and the UK to stigmatize China's reform of Hong Kong's electoral system.

Experts said it comes as no surprise that these Western countries issue joint or separate statements to accuse China on Hong Kong with the same old pretext that they had repeatedly used before on the matter of Hong Kong, and now the point is to what extent their accusations will turn into real action to further damage China's interests in the city.

It's very likely that some Western countries are ready to give up certain interests to make China feel the pain, so in order to handle such provocations, China is also fully prepared for a long-term struggle with the West. And Chinese experts warned that any further step meddling in China's Hong Kong affairs will cause the same amount of losses for the West, in the city or elsewhere. 

Refutations from China

The Chinese Embassy in the UK said in a statement released on Sunday that "the relevant politicians from the above-mentioned countries and groups, including the UK, have confused right and wrong, slung groundless slanders at China, and blatantly interfered in China's internal affairs. The Chinese side expresses its strong condemnation and firm opposition."

Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the NPC Standing Committee from Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Sunday that according to the remarks made by the top leaders of China that he heard from the meeting with Hong Kong delegates in Beijing during the annual session of the NPC earlier this month, the central government has already evaluated how much China would pay diplomatically, and will make no compromises to pressure from the West. 

The Chinese central government firmly believes the electoral reform and the previous national security law for Hong Kong, as well as other potential reforms that could take place in the future, are "the right things to do and must be done," no matter whether the West likes them or not, analysts said.

"The central government will receive criticism and pressure from the West, but it hopes that, after the electoral reform for the city this time, Hong Kong would no longer have to experience political turmoil every two to three years anymore. Society would finally embrace long-term stability," Tam said.

Later on Sunday, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council released a statement to slam Western accusations and criticism against China on Hong Kong. "Illegal activities of Hong Kong separatism and 'Black-clad violence' once created huge damage to Hong Kong, and they were all directly related to open or clandestine support from some Western countries. As Hong Kong restores public order from chaos, some Western countries still use the pretext of 'freedom' or 'democracy' to interfere in China's Hong Kong affairs. Their political attempts are clear," the office said.

A long fight

In recent years, China has already become immune to existing sanctions launched by the West on Hong Kong and Xinjiang, such as targeting specific officials or other trade and economic approaches, Chinese experts said. They noted that to what extent the West, including the US, the UK and the EU, would increase or implement new sanctions is still a question depending on the price they want to pay, but China is fully prepared no matter how long the fight will be.  

Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday that the West has multiple approaches that could be used to hit China on Hong Kong, including sanctioning specific officials, withdrawing special treatment, reducing trade and economic exchanges, suspending financial activities or cooperation, or some other measures like what the UK did on the BN(O) (British National Overseas) visa issue.

If the US and other Western countries decide to inflict greater and more substantial damage to Hong Kong or even China, such as totally destroying Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, they should be prepared to abandon a huge number of interests related to the city as such sanctions on trade or finance would just be like "a nuclear attack triggering mutual assured destruction economically and financially," said Lü Xiang, an expert in US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Lü told the Global Times on Sunday that the US and UK are different from other Western countries and major EU members like France and Germany on this matter, "Because China's latest move did create huge losses for the US and UK in Hong Kong."

Behind the pretext of "democracy," the real reason why Washington and London are extremely anxious at this moment is that "their long-lasting plan and huge amount of input in Hong Kong - to breed pro-West proxies or opposition parties to gain political power through the problematic election system - is totally doomed," Lü said.

Other G7 members or major EU powers don't share their pain, so not every Western country desires to escalate their confrontation with China on Hong Kong, Lü noted, so the "long fight" with the West on Hong Kong is, in fact, mainly with the US and the UK.

Cui said the situation won't be very optimistic though the EU would be more pragmatic and cautious. 

He noted that in the past, the US or its allies would care about their economic interests when having disagreements with China, but now their decision-makers believe that when compared to their leadership or hegemony, "economic interests are expendable," since they believe if they don't do anything to cause pain for China now, 10 years later maybe, when China becomes the world's biggest economy, it would be all too late.  

China is fully prepared for the long fight, and the West would realize one day that their attempts to meddle Hong Kong or even interrupt the development of China is doomed to fail, said experts.