By Wang Wenwen in Hong Kong and Chen Qingqing in Beijing Source:Global Times
US senators are inciting Washington to carry out a “self-damaging mission” in pushing forward a Hong Kong-related bill that may lead to sanctions on China and review of the trading status of Hong Kong, Chinese experts said, warning that China would come up with equivalent countermeasures if Washington takes the bill into effect.
The act now goes to the US House of Representatives which approved its own version earlier. Both houses will sort out the differences before sending the legislation to US President Donald Trump for his signature.
The bill, if passed, would sanction Chinese officials found “suppressing Hong Kong’s democracy, human rights or citizen freedoms” by freezing their assets in the US and denying them entry to the US. It will also review Hong Kong’s condition of autonomy annually that relates to the city’s special trade status.
Shen Yi, an associate professor from the School of International Relations & Public Affairs, Fudan University, slammed the US’ move as “crazy and nonsensical,” and called it purely a political show to vent its anxiety.
“It is a self-destructive bargain as it is jeopardizing US companies and financial organizations in Hong Kong to threaten the Chinese government to compromise,” Shen told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In an unprecedented move, seven Chinese institutes – the National People’s Congress, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the Foreign Ministry, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, the Liaison Office, the Office of the Commissioner, and HK Special Administrative Region (SAR) government, have one after another condemned US Senate’s passage of the act.
Chinese Foreign Ministry said the US disregarded facts and openly interfered in Hong Kong-related affairs and domestic affairs of China, which violated international rules and principles.
It strongly criticized some US politicians who try to achieve their goals by turning a blind eye to reality and interests of Hong Kong citizens. US politicians glorifying attacks and crimes as the pursuit of “human rights” and “democracy” aim to support radicals and rioters, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.
Over the past five months, Hong Kong has been engulfed in extremely radical and violent criminal activities, seriously jeopardizing public safety and defying the principle of “one country, two systems,” Geng noted, adding that the central government will continue to firmly support the Hong Kong government to enforce the law and safeguard social order.
The Hong Kong SAR government also expressed deep regret, saying the act and another related bills are groundless and will hurt relations between the Hong Kong SAR and the US.
A government spokesperson said the Basic Law grants Hong Kong special status, and that such status has been widely recognized and respected by the international community.
“The passage of the bill means the US interference in China’s internal affairs has escalated and its ‘Hong Kong card’ has come to the phase of a ‘legal war,'” Tian Feilong, an associate professor at Beihang University in Beijing and member of Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times Wednesday.
“But US interests in Hong Kong will also be jeopardized as the US has a lot of investments in Hong Kong and invests to the mainland via Hong Kong,” Tian noted.
Tian said China can also carry out countermeasures such as sanctioning main senators that pushed forward the bill, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee passing resolutions as China’s blocking statute, and providing sufficient political and interest protection to Hong Kong and mainland officials that may be sanctioned under the US legislation.
Hong Kong-based expert Tang Fei, a member of the same institute as Tian, believes that the passage of the act will weaken Hong Kong society’s consensus and determination in ending the current violence and chaos in the city and lend Trump a leverage in US trade negotiations and even strategic competition with China.
“But at the beginning, its effect will remain in theory as the US president and government are flexible when implementing it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a blacklist will be made soon, and the president can make adjustments according to ‘national interests,'” Tang told the Global Times Wednesday.
So far, Trump has kept silent about whether he would sign the bill.
Passing the act will surely weigh on the ongoing trade talks between China and the US, as reviewing the special trade status of Hong Kong or revoking the status would also hurt the bilateral trade ties between China and the US, as much of the trading activities take place through Hong Kong, a global trading hub, another analyst said.
“US Congress has been highly politicized as those politicians only care about their own political goals, ignoring the fundamental interests of their country,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Ministry of Commerce‘s Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Such move will also put the US president in an embarrassing situation, as the Trump administration has been seeking a trade war truce with China by coming up with the first-phase agreement, Mei noted.
“Creating a leverage out of the Hong Kong issue will also affect the trade talks,” he said.