It’s almost like China can do whatever they want under this administration.
In the latest move to tighten its increasingly strong hold on Hong Kong, China’s legislature approved a resolution to overhaul its electoral system, giving the People’s Republic the green light to establish even more control over the Special Administrative Region.
The “Patriots Governing Hong Kong” resolution passed Thursday, and will reportedly allow a Beijing-controlled panel to review and elect candidates, reducing Democratic representation in the process.
The S.A.R. was handed over to China by the United Kingdom in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” model, allowing Hong Kong its own parliament and a constitution, called the Basic Law. Now, China is rolling back those privileges and layering its tyrannical authoritarianism onto the region under the guise of unity.
Although China has chipped away at Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy since it regained control of the region, the most recent series of infringes began in 2014 with China’s legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, announcing they would pre-screen candidates for the office of the chief executive of Hong Kong, which sparked the Umbrella Movement.
In 2019, the People’s Republic announced its initial blueprint for the Greater Bay Area, a supposed competitor to California’s Silicon Valley, a plan which will remove Hong Kong’s economic autonomy and market economy and make it an extension of China’s socialist market economy system.
China has attacked Hong Kong’s autonomy, both governmentally and economically, since the British returned the region, and as it stands former President Donald Trump is the only president in recent history to have stood against the People’s Republic.
The former president combatted China’s economic expansion through tariffs, and ideologically by signing bills like the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, both of which allow the U.S. government to levy sanctions against “foreign individuals and entities” committing human rights violations, in Hong Kong and in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region respectively.
Unfortunately for both of these long-oppressed groups, the current administration is indicating it will not continue Trump’s aggressive measures, replacing action with empty threats long abandoned.
President Joe Biden, during the 2020 presidential race, condemned China’s anti-freedom policies in Hong Kong, at one point threatening sanctions against the country if he was elected president in November.
But now, aside from keeping the former administration’s tariffs and announcing new sanctions on “sensitive technologies,” there was been little in the way of action from the Biden administration.
In fact, there’s even been indirect support of China’s human rights abuses. Biden said in a town hall last month that China’s genocide against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region was simply the result of “cultural norms.”
Joe Biden on China’s human rights violations and genocide against the Uighurs: “culturally there are different norms”
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 17, 2021
When the president did “speak out,” he spoke with President Xi Xinping on the phone, wishing the Chinese people a good Lunar New Year, and “shar[ing]
concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan.”
I spoke today with President Xi to offer good wishes to the Chinese people for Lunar New Year. I also shared concerns about Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan. I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 11, 2021
In contrast, Biden’s own Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stood by former Secretary Mike Pompeo’s designation of China’s actions as genocide during his first week in office.
His lack of action regarding Hong Kong also speaks volumes.
After the “Patriots Governing Hong Kong” resolution was passed, Biden simply spoke out against the resolution, calling the move a “direct attack” on the region’s autonomy. The president is right, but words are worth nothing without action to back them up.
So far, nothing has come.
Biden, in contrast to Trump, is a supremely weak president when it comes to China. He may threaten sanctions and refuse to cut back on Trump’s tariffs, but in the end, the man is almost a friend to President Xinping.
As a conflict in the South China Sea between U.S. and China forces becomes increasingly possible, it’s hard to believe that Biden will do anything other than step back if confronted.