China risks getting a huge financial blow that will threaten Hong Kong’s position as a financial hub if the proposed National Security Law is passed in the island.
The proposed law is aimed at banning “subversion and separatism” is seen as the final nail in the coffin of Hong Kong’s autonomy and opposition movements to the Communist Party of China (CPC). The proposed security law is intended at clamping down on anything and everything remotely associated with treason, sedition, foreign interference and cessation.
“Secretary Pompeo would likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong will maintain a high degree of autonomy if that happens (passing the strict Security Law). There will be sanctions imposed on Hong Kong and China,” said National security adviser Robert O'Brien in an interview with NBC.
O'Brien also expressed his doubts about how Hong Kong could still remain the Asian financial centre it has grown to become if China takes over.
The proposal was discussed on the first day of the national congress in Beijing last week which had in attendance 3,000 Communist Party officials and military delegates from all over China.
“I just want to say to the international community that this is the end of Hong Kong. The Beijing government has completely breached its promise to the Hong Kong people,” said Dennis Kwok a legislator from Hong Kong
The move has however forced heavy backlash from the united states, Taiwan and pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong. Pro-democracy protesters also took to the streets to object the new suggested changes will chip out the unique rights of assembly and free speech that have been enjoyed by the people of the island commonly known to operate on the principle of one “country, two systems”.
Hong Kong which was handed back to China in 1997 by the British after a 99-year rule grew to what it is today because of the rule of law, free enterprise system, capitalist system and democracy.
“If all those things go away, I don’t see how the financial community can stay there,” said O’Brien.
However, these benefits put in place during the British rule were to expire 50 years after China takes charge of the Island. Under the agreement in 1997, Hong Kong would remain autonomous, have an independent legislative and judicial system and civil liberties for its citizens.
Nevertheless, China has slowly undermined the agreement in many ways over the course of the following years leading to mass protests that turned violent. From June 2019, violent protests have been the new face of the island after china passed an extradition bill that will see residents of Hong Kong being sent to Mainland China for trials.
“The national security law is even more hurtful and damaging than the extradition law last year introduced by the government. We would describe now as the beginning of the end but we still have to continue the fight,” said Joshua Wong, a pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong.
“China is dependent on the capital from the rest of the world. To build their economy and grow their middle class, they are dependent on liquidity and financial markets. If they lose access to that through Hong Kong, that’s a huge blow to Xi JinPing and the Chinese Communist Party,” commented O’Brien.
Early this month, a group of Hong Kong legislatures was dragged out of parliament amid a row about a Chinese national anthem bill that would criminalize disrespect of the song and the Chinese flag; something Hong Kong people do during protests.
The decision by Beijing to continue frustrating its “one country two systems” relationship with Hong Kong has added friction to the escalating tensions between the US and China.
The world’s leading exporter has been heavily criticized by the U.S. and other countries over lack of transparency concerning the coronavirus outbreak while president Trump has expressed consideration of slapping new tariffs on china due to the incident. Additionally, the unresolved trade war between the two superpowers and US’s open support for Taiwan continue to fan growing tension.
Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi said on Sunday that relations between China and the US were at risk of worsening to the point of a "new Cold War" becoming a reality.
"Aside from the devastation caused by the novel coronavirus, there is also a political virus spreading through the US," said Wang. "This political virus is the use of every opportunity to attack and smear China. Some politicians completely disregard basic facts and have fabricated too many lies targeting China, and plotted too many conspiracies," added the Chinese State Councillor.
Although President Donald Trump has never publicly supported the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, others in his administration have expressed their concerns about democracy and the rule of law being under threat in the island.
The CPC will see the proposed security law is passed as soon as possible even though protests continue shrouding the streets of Hong Kong.