China is signaling they will drop the panda illusion and take a full frontal dragon approach toward Hong Kong. Chairman Xi Jinping is deploying, some say he has already deployed, the Ministry of State Security – China’s leading intelligence agency – into Hong Kong to begin formal control through national security laws.
The move appears to be a direct signal that communist Beijing will not longer accept or allow Hong Kong’s current autonomous status as a free democracy. Beijing signaling “enough is enough”, and Hong Kongers are rightly concerned. If Xi follows through, we can expect to see even more protests and confrontations; and the possibility President Trump will remove the “special trade status” the U.S. gives to Hong Kong.
Right now Hong Kong is exempt from U.S. tariffs and other economic measures the U.S. has deployed against China. If Beijing takes full control, that could quickly change.
(Reuters) – Beijing appears determined to stamp out any renewed rebellion against the Communist Party’s authority over the former British colony. China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, is preparing to circumvent the city’s lawmaking body, the Legislative Council, in drafting the new laws.
The fear among many in Hong Kong is that China intends to criminalize existing freedoms, including criticism of the central government and its policies. It is the latest and biggest step in a concerted effort by Beijing to assert control over Hong Kong and its 7.4 million people.
In recent weeks there had been widespread speculation here that Beijing was planning this move, described by some local commentators as the “nuclear option.” Thursday’s announcement by China nonetheless stunned pro-democracy lawmakers, business leaders and lawyers in the city. It was, they said, a historic turning point – the end of “one country, two systems,” the formula Beijing had promised would allow Hong Kong to retain its way of life and freedom for at least 50 years after the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.
“This represents a real demolition of the one country, two systems idea and also the idea of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” said barrister Wilson Leung, a member of the Progressive Lawyers Group. Leung said extremely harsh sentences had been imposed on dissidents, journalists and lawyers on the mainland under vaguely expressed but draconian laws. “These same vague concepts are now being introduced to Hong Kong,” he said.
Many details of the new laws and exactly how they will be absorbed into Hong Kong’s existing statutes remain unclear. But Beijing has openly expressed its intentions in recent months. It wants to end the cycle of mass protests that have thwarted successive post-colonial administrations each time they have moved to more closely align the city with China’s political and legal system.
[…] Hong Kong is a vital cog in China’s economy. While China still has extensive capital controls and often intervenes in its financial markets and banking system, Hong Kong is one of the most open economies in the world and one of the biggest markets for equity and debt financing.
China uses Hong Kong’s currency, equity and debt markets to attract foreign funds, while international companies use Hong Kong as a launchpad to expand into mainland China. The bulk of foreign direct investment in China continues to be channeled through the city. And many of China’s biggest firms have listed in Hong Kong, often as a springboard to global expansion. (read more)
Prior to the Wuhan virus President Trump was positioning the confrontation between the U.S. and China based on economics and trade. Within that dynamic Beijing had a weak hand and President Trump exploited their vulnerabilities with a geopolitical strategy to dismantle China’s one-belt/one-road expansion plan.
President Trump used access to the strong U.S. market to leverage multinational companies away from Chinese manufacturing. Trump’s tariffs against China were extremely effective; and led to Beijing’s initial acquiescence. However, it was soon evident that China would not accept their diminished economic outcome.
If Xi moves on Hong Kong, there’s a very strong likelihood President Trump will remove the HK special trade status which will have an immediate impact.