A military operation against Hong Kong protesters could trigger a rupture in U.S.-China relations that makes the trade war look minor in comparison, U.S. lawmakers and analysts suggest. “If Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong, it would require a fundamental reassessment of our relations with their country, the kind that should have happened after Tiananmen Square,” Republican Arkansas Sen.
Tom Cotton said Tuesday. Chinese officials have intensified their criticism of the political crisis in recent days, accusing the protesters of engaging in “terrorist activities.” Those denunciations followed a series of implicit threats to use the People’s Liberation Army to put down the protests.
But that tactic could come at a political and economic cost for China, as the United States would likely reverse the policies that give Hong Kong a special status for trade and economic relations with the West. “The Communist Party knows quite well that, if they do that, the special relationship is done and their ability to use Hong Kong as a window to Western financial markets is lost,” retired Air Force Gen.
Rob Spalding told the Washington Examiner. Spalding helped craft President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy during a stint at the White House National Security Council. The most “devastating” consequences of a military intervention could come from the private sector more than government reactions, a diplomat representing a U.
S. ally in the region agreed. “Huge criticism from the international community, of course,” the envoy told the Washington Examiner on condition of anonymity. “But moreover huge impact on [the] economy. Because investors feel uneasy and unstable, outflow of the foreign capital would occur consequently.
A financial exodus could have wide-ranging ramifications. Hong Kong’s special status as a conduit of international finance propelled China’s rise as an economic power. That investment historically made the city a target-rich environment for Chinese spy services seeking the sensitive technology that Western corporations were permitted to export to Hong Kong, but not to mainland China.
The images of a military crackdown could also galvanize public opinion in Taiwan against mainland Communist authorities, who are attempting to persuade the island, which Beijing has regarded as a renegade province for decades, to adopt the kind of “one country, two systems” model that is supposed to guarantee a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong.
“Beijing may at some point make the judgment that the situation warrant military intervention regardless of the high cost involved,” Adam Ni, a former policy adviser for the Australian government who now conducts China research at Macquarie University in Sydney, argued Sunday. But we are not at this point just yet.
. We should not discount this possibility, one that will almost certainly have.....