Jia Chunyang is Associate Researcher at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Institute of American Studies
On July 14, United States President Donald Trump signed the so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law, despite China’s strong opposition. This law maliciously denigrates the Chinese central government’s policies toward Hong Kong and threatens to impose sanctions on Hong Kong officials and financial institutions. On the same day, Trump announced that he signed an executive order to end any special treatment for Hong Kong. In the past, the U.S. has introduced several Hong Kong-related bills including the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act, both enacted in 2019, as well as the 1992 United States-Hong Kong Policy Act. It can be said that the U.S. has reached a crazy stage in Hong Kong-related legislation.
Reading through the clauses of these Hong Kong-related bills, several main features stand out. First, is the necessary mentioning of “human rights,” “democracy” and “freedom,” giving people the false impression that the U.S. is very concerned about the people of Hong Kong. Second, is the distortion and slander of the Chinese central government’s policies for governing Hong Kong, as well as unconditional support for its so-called “democrats” (who are, in fact, simply anarchists). The third notable feature is the U.S.’ attempt to intimidate the Chinese government and related officials and entities in Hong Kong through false claims and frequent threats to impose sanctions. These tactics fully expose America’s power politics and hegemony.
However, facts speak louder than words. No matter how many times you repeat a lie, it remains a lie, it cannot be made into a truth. Not only will it not deceive the audience, but it will expose your own foolishness.
First of all, the United States does not care about the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. Before Hong Kong was returned to China, its people did not have any sort of democracy or freedom at all. Instead, they faced the standards of second-class citizens and their attempts to defend their rights were often met with brutal suppression by the colonial British government. Even the U.S. admits that during this period, the people of Hong Kong had no power to elect or exert influence on their governor. In his book “The Government and Politics of Hong Kong,” British scholar Norman Miners states frankly, “that the governor’s statutory power has reached such a level that if he is willing to exercise all of his power, he can make himself a little dictator.”
During this period, while Hong Kong suffered a bloody tragedy that severely violated human rights, the United States never said a word.
Now that Hong Kong has been returned, China governs strictly according to the constitution and the Hong Kong Basic Law, firmly implementing the “one country, two systems” policy. China has made Hong Kong into a widely-known capital of freedom, and it has been selected as the freest economy in the world for more than 20 consecutive years. From 1996 to 2018, Hong Kong’s standard of rule of law has risen more than 60 places to 16th in the world.* Now, Americans have begun to care about the freedom, democracy and rights of the people of Hong Kong—how absurd.
Second, the basic purpose of the U.S. interference in the Hong Kong issue is to disrupt the territory and oppose China. It is well-known that following the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill, a small number of anti-China Hong Kong forces openly shouted slogans such as “Hong Kong independence,” “Self-determination” and “Referendum”; all while wantonly engaging in activities that undermine social stability, violating the safety of people’s lives and property, and jeopardizing national unity. These chaotic actions not only severely violated the safety of Hong Kong’s residents, but also seriously undermined the spirit of rule of law that governs its society, thus affecting social stability and economic growth. Regarding these chaotic and destructive acts, American politicians not only failed to stand on the side of justice, but deliberately misrepresented the situation. The U.S. has described these anarchist actors as democrats, calling their violent and even terrorist-like activities a “beautiful sight,” and has even provided the protesters with funding and public and diplomatic support.
In this context, and in order to maintain Hong Kong’s rule of law, stability and national unity, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress introduced the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (referred to as the Hong Kong Security Law), which is obviously a popular move among the people. As for China’s normal legislative actions, U.S. politicians have again begun making thoughtless remarks, even threatening to impose sanctions on Chinese officials and entities involved in Hong Kong. Obviously, the U.S. did not do this for the so-called maintenance of human rights, or to protect the autonomy of Hong Kong, but to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and stability with the ultimate goal of opposing China and creating chaos in the territory.
Third, the U.S’ attempts to disrupt Hong Kong and oppose China will not succeed. As the saying goes, those who win over the hearts of the people win the world. The development and changes that have occurred in Hong Kong since its return to China, especially the tremendous progress that the people of Hong Kong have made in terms of political power, have all demonstrated the success of the Central Government’s policies for governing Hong Kong. At the same time, a series of atrocities committed by rioters in Hong Kong and the acts of violent insurrection condoned by foreign powers have deeply impacted the people of Hong Kong and taught them to distinguish who truly upholds the rule of law and social stability and who destroys these things.
The Chinese central government’s policies for governing Hong Kong are vigorously supported by the people of Hong Kong and the whole country, and this support cannot be stifled by a small number of chaotic elements and anti-China foreign powers. Simultaneously, today’s China has long moved past the role of “sick man of East Asia” that it played during the Opium War in 1840 in the face of foreign invasions. Instead, China is a complex and powerful modern country that becomes more prosperous every day. No piece of evil legislation or so-called sanctions can intimidate such a country. No matter what insidious tricks and intimidation tactics the U.S. uses regarding Hong Kong in the future, it will not shake the Chinese government’s determination to preserve national unity, territorial sovereignty and safeguard Hong Kong’s stability and rule of law. The U.S.’ attempts to disrupt Hong Kong and oppose China are destined to be nothing but wishful thinking and will never succeed.
Hong Kong’s affairs are purely China’s internal matters, and no foreign country has the right or moral qualifications to intervene. Interfering in Hong Kong under the guise of defending human rights will not only fail to demonstrate the moral superiority of the U.S. on human rights issues, but will also expose its own misdeeds and wrongdoings in this regard. American politicians who will spare no effort to disrupt Hong Kong, since they are obsessed with human rights and freedom, should focus on the rights and freedoms of the people in their own country, at least allowing non-white people the right to breathe.
*Editor’s Note: This ranking refers to the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2020