China Imposes Laws on Hong Kong in a Bid to Crush Anti-Beijing Protests

Mish

In a move sure to get a reaction Trump, China moves to crush protests in Hong Kong.

Kiss Hong Kong’s Autonomy Goodbye

The Wall Street Journal reports China Votes to Override Hong Kong’s Autonomy on National Security.

China’s legislature approved a resolution to impose national-security laws on Hong Kong, overriding the territory’s partial autonomy in a bid to crush anti-Beijing protests that have challenged Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Thursday’s vote, at the end of a weeklong session of the National People’s Congress, paves the way for Beijing to implement legal and enforcement measures in Hong Kong that mirror how mainland Chinese agencies police activities that challenge Communist Party rule.It also sets China on a collision course with the U.S., which has accused Beijing of reneging on its pledge to respect the city’s self-governance. Washington has signaled it may take measures in response by declaring that it no longer considers Hong Kong autonomous from Beijing.

Trump’s Hong Kong Moment

Also consider Trump’s Hong Kong Moment

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to certify that “Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China,” which under U.S. law can trigger sanctions and the withdrawal of trade and other benefits.

While “this decision gives me no pleasure,” Mr. Pompeo said, “sound policy making requires a recognition of reality.” China’s action to impose a national security law that will supercede Hong Kong’s Basic Law means Mr. Pompeo had little choice under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which President Trump signed in November.

The law built on earlier U.S. efforts to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy that the Chinese promised the British for 50 years in 1997. This includes special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong on everything from trade, visas and customs to cooperation on banking and law enforcement. The law’s logic is that if there is no longer much difference between Hong Kong and China, then those privileges shouldn’t apply.

How Might Trump Respond?

  1. Restricts visas
  2. New export restrictions 
  3. Restrict investments
  4. Sanctions

The first three hurt citizens of Hong Kong more than China. Number four could, depending on the precise sanctions.

Export restrictions hurt US technology companies.

Generalized Visa restrictions will hurt the US travel industry and schools. The US could impose visa restrictions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, but where is she going anyway? 

Senators Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.)  drafted legislation that would sanction anyone who undermines the legal autonomy and rights that China promised Hong Kong. 

Trump Will React By the End of the Week

Trump has promised action by the end of the week, but Chinese spokesman say Trump will blink.

It's likely Trump targets Carrie Lam. Her actions kicked off the protests, but the decision to impose news laws on Hong Kong came from Beijing.

The Wall Street Journal wants Trump to respond, but the only thing that does not hurt both Hong Kong and the US is financial sanctions under the Magnitsky Act.

Would that change anything?

No. 

Other than taking symbolic measures or hurting US interests as well, there is little Trump can do.

More importantly, there is little the US should do. US interventions have a horrid track record do they not?

Finally, a friend of mine just pointed out the Hong Kong agreement was negotiated between the UK and China. The US is not party to that agreement.

China will break the agreement but why should it be up to the US to enforce it? And how many agreements did Trump break?

Mish

Comments (42)
No. 1-15
njbr
njbr

Only one answer possible---tariffs!

Webej
Webej

So has China done anything that the Hong Kong's people representatives have opposed? O, I forgot, Hong Kong was seized by the British in 1857 illegally, and has never had democratically accountable representatives. Has China done something which is unthinkable in a sovereign nation, such as the USA? I've not read about it.

Fact is, I have yet to come across an article that shows in details how the application of laws about national security would impinge on the human rights of Hong Kong citizens ... it seems that it is all geopolitical posturing, and zero concrete concerns for actual Hong Kong citizens. Perhaps Americans should be getting wound up about the rights of the State to execute Americans without due process or to hold them without habeas corpus just by uttering the magical syllables "terr ur". Or perhaps we should be concerned about what it means for the human rights of Hong Kong citizens, but I am not detecting any.

Maximus_Minimus
Maximus_Minimus

China doesn't keep agreements and treaties, either? It is serious if two nuclear countries cannot be trusted with anything they sign.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

Ramp up freedom of navigation exercises in South China Sea? ... that always pisses them off.

AWC
AWC

Long real estate in Vancouver and San Francisco.

Fl0yd
Fl0yd

The CCP has serious human rights issues. It just happens to surface in HK. The simple fact is that one might be questioned just for writing these lines.

There is a price being paid when conducting business with an entity like CCP ruled China. I have been wary of that for many years.

I'm afraid there aren't whole lot of reaction options. But, we should and could respond strategically. This does entail long-long-term thinking about the issue. For example, are we ok with consuming products manufactured under coercion, poor human conditions, environment where people cannot protest their grievances w/ the ruling party, etc.?

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

War is coming. China has become a global dictatorship with empire building tendencies.

When was the last time a #2 dictatorship didn’t start a war?

Sechel
Sechel

Hong Kong has a highly educated and entrepreneurial workforce and many are rich. U.S. never properly tapped into that with many going to Vancouver. Will never happen but the best policy would be to accept as man as possible and make them citizens bringing money, and entrepreneurship with them.

U.S. doesn't have many options for punishing china, we're already at odds with them over too much, virus ownership, trade, naval waters, north korea. this is why nations must pick and choose their battles and why a carrot and stick approach is far better than just one uses sticks

Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat


mish: no comments?

Quatloo
Quatloo

Ultimately, Trump does not care about morality, he cares only about money. We saw that with Kashoggi and Saudi Arabia. We will see it again with Hong Kong. Trump admires authoritarians, because they can get things done. He will use HK to extract some things from China, and then turn his head to their abuses (as he does today in Western China—Tibet and the Uighurs) once he gets China to agree to buy more American goods.

Rbm
Rbm

Here is trumps war to get him a second term. .

JustDaFactsJack
JustDaFactsJack

US trade policy is governed by the UK-China accord and treats Hong Kong as a separate entity. If the HK situation is no longer governed by the British-Chinese accord, the categorizing of HK also should no longer be governed by it.

BigSKYoung
BigSKYoung

Selectively return Chinese students who happen to be related to CCP.

GeorgeWP
GeorgeWP

Fair enough for Pompeo to withdraw special trade status, but beyond that Hong Kong is part of China. But why are human right in HK of more interest to the US than in Saudi Arabia or Israel or....

VPKK
VPKK

Sorry, he is busy now to “crush the local protests” ...