President Donald Trump will host a press conference to address China’s recent incursion on the autonomy of Hong Kong today. He is expected to reveal a US response that could include economic sanctions.
Last week, China passed new national security laws that give the country a legal footing for tightening its grip on Hong Kong. The Trump administration believes the new legislation is an assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy, which is guaranteed under international law. The issue is becoming a major point of contention between the two countries. With this, President Trump will officially weigh in on the topic at today’s press conference. Earlier in the week, the president told reporters that the administration is planning on taking some “very interesting” action.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has taken a strong stance against China’s recent actions. On Wednesday, Pompeo told Congress that the Trump administration no longer considers Hong Kong to be autonomous from Mainland China. “Beijing’s disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty,” Pompeo said in a recent media statement.
The US and China ended 2019 on a positive note with the signing of a much-anticipated “phase-one” trade agreement. However, ever since then, tensions between the two superpowers have risen steadily. Over the past four months, the US has become highly critical of China’s coronavirus response. This has significantly strained the already tenuous relationship between the two countries.
China’s response to any negative press is full with outright defiance and its state-backed media has even gone as far as to accuse the US of releasing the virus in China. China is pulling out all the stops to counter any bad publicity. It has even unleashed a small army of social media trolls to combat anti-China sentiment online.
The pandemic hasn’t slowed down China’s aggressive streak. In fact, the regime seems to have escalated its regional conflicts and aggressive expansion tactics in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. In April alone, there were several incidents of Chinese aggression against regional rivals. Also, in one incident, a Chinese ship rammed and sank a Vietnam vessel in the South China Sea. Later in the month, China announced that it had formed two administrative units on islands in the South China Sea. However, those islands are also claimed by Vietnam. Another standoff near a Malaysian oil rig drew warships from the US, Australia, and China.
China has been subtly increasing its control over Hong Kong for years. Although, it has stopped short of making any outright moves. The new national security laws mark a worrisome departure from China’s previous approach. It could prove disastrous for the citizens of Hong Kong.
The pandemic seems to have emboldened China to the point where it’s openly flaunting international law, and the US needs to take action. No one wants to start an armed conflict with China, but President Trump needs to respond strongly if he wants to check China’s assault on Hong Kong’s autonomy.