Freedom Dies in Hong Kong – Hold China Accountable

China Hong Kong Freedom DestroyedCommunist China – determined to concentrate power, little respect for truth, democracy, or liberty, is hemorrhaging global trust.  China’s leadership does not seem to care.  We should care that they do not care.  The world should unite to hold China accountable.  This week’s decision to effectively end self-rule in Hong Kong, is stunning. President Trump is right to speak out.

As the world wrestles COVID-19 – the pernicious disease originating in China – Cambridge University finds the pandemic will cost “a nightmarish 82 trillion dollars over five years.”  See: https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/coronavirus-pandemic-cost-global-economy-82-trillion-cambridge-study-2020-5-1029218887.  Already, it has cost 334,000 lives, triggered the sharpest economic decline on record. Now, China is taking advantage of the moment – to crush Hong Kong’s freedom.

Historically, China has coerced multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organization, World Bank, World Health Organization.  China has boldly stolen US intellectual property, hacked, and stolen priceless data from US universities, US businesses, and US government.  They are notorious for dishonesty, deception and denial, internal repressing individual liberties.

During the Obama Administration, China targeted four million Americans, stealing 21.5 million sensitive clearance records from the Office of Personnel Management.  See: www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/cyber-security/the-opm-breach-timeline-of-a-hack/.  They stole more than 100,000 IRS records, tens of thousands of Department of Homeland Security records, infiltrated hundreds of US university systems. See: www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/04/us-government-massive-data-breach-employee-records-security-clearances.

China has militarized trade lanes in the South China Sea with artificial islands they denied building, military assets they denied deploying, and power projection ambitions they deny having.  Against international law, they have tested directed energy weapons in space, militarized the Spratly Islands, violated the sovereignty of countless countries (e.g. India, Vietnam, Pacific and African nations), destroyed coral reefs, flouted established legal conventions. See: https://atlantablackstar.com/2018/09/16/china-has-tightened-its-grip-on-africas-resources/https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/cpec-violates-sovereignty-india-tells-china/articleshow/57296736.cms.

As a senior CSIS advisor recently noted, “If there is no response to these violations of the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, it demonstrates Beijing can violate international law with impunity.” See: www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/aug/6/how-china-violates-international-law-impunity/.

All that brings us to now – today.  Incredibly, despite legal agreement in 1997 assuring Hong Kong, once handed from Great Britain back to China, would maintain democracy, capitalism, and autonomy under a “one country, two systems” framework – China has just lowered the boom.

Against all prevailing international understandings, upending a promise of “universal suffrage,” Communist China has gone beyond restrictions demanding Hong Kong’s chief executive must “love the country” and comply with Beijing.  They have begun the police state. See: https://nypost.com/2020/05/22/mike-pompeo-rips-chinas-proposed-power-grab-in-hong-kong/

As of May 22, “China’s government plans to let mainland state-security agencies operate officially in Hong Kong,” springing “surprise plans for Beijing to impose national-security laws on Hong Kong …” with a force that will be able to repress and arrest at will, pursuant to Communist Chinese mandate.  This follows the largely unreported arrests of protest leaders.

In short, we are watching freedom die in Hong Kong.  With it, we are seeing deterrence die. If the Western world does not speak up, stand up and take actions in line with our longstanding values, we will concede more to China than Hong Kong’s freedom.  We will concede the future.

The time is now to say enough is enough, calling this increasingly unaccountable Communist state to heel. Ronald Reagan made clear the underlying illegitimacy inherent in Soviet Communism. The repressed people of that regime were grateful, and the world changed.

President Trump and every free nation in the world should be clear that Chinese Communist repression, violation of international practices, norms, treaties, laws, and conventions is illegitimate, irresponsible, and impermissible.  This issue matters in 2020, and beyond.

In short, coordinated consequences – economic, political, diplomatic and, if necessary, military – should be levied by nations of the Free World to convince, persuade, guide, cajole, and ultimately insist and assure Communist China does not continue to run wild.

To date, China has accepted no responsibility, shown no remorse for incalculable damage done by unleashing COVID-19, lying about virus’ origins, transmission, lethality, and predictable economic impact.  Now, China is taking advantage of the global distraction to suppress Hong Kong’s freedom.  This must stop.  President Trump is right:  Time to hold China accountable.

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