I honestly don’t know what to make of the Chinese authorities’ decision effectively to abandon the “one country, two systems” policy now. The editors of the Washington Post are dismayed:
There’s every reason to expect that once the legislation is in place this summer, Beijing’s thugs will employ it to behave as they do on the mainland — crushing dissent by subjecting those who criticize the regime to disappearance, torture and lengthy prison sentences. First in line could be those Hong Kong leaders, such as Martin Lee and Joshua Wong, who have traveled to Washington and other Western capitals to lobby for pressure on Beijing to fulfill its commitments on Hong Kong, including for universal suffrage and free elections. Both are already facing prosecution.
Such a crackdown would compound what is already a crisis in U.S.-Chinese relations and present Washington with some difficult choices. It doesn’t help that President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been heaping abuse on the Xi regime in recent weeks as a way of distracting from the Trump administration’s abysmal response to the covid-19 pandemic; in fact, the mounting U.S. hostility may have persuaded Mr. Xi that he had little to lose by smothering Hong Kong.
On Friday, Mr. Pompeo issued a blistering statement saying the pending People’s Congress action would “be a death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy and would “inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory.” That was an unmistakable reference to the special trading privileges Hong Kong has enjoyed under U.S. law since 1992. Under an amendment Congress adopted last year, the State Department must issue a report on whether the territory remains “sufficiently autonomous” to justify the measures, which include exemption from tariffs applied to mainland exports.
The assault on Hong Kong requires a robust U.S. reaction — but one that is carefully calculated and not driven by election-year demagoguery.
Not satisfied by imagining that China is a country different than it is, they insist on imagining that the U. S. is a country different than it is.
Are the Chinese authorities eager not to let a crisis go to waste? Think the rest of the world is too busy with its problems, which they had a hand in creating, to notice what they’re doing? Think it’s now or never? Or have they just decided that the present arrangement has outlived its usefulness? Perhaps Taiwan should watch its back.