Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

China in isolation for its handling of Hong Kong
KANEKO Hidetoshi / Journalist

August 28, 2020
The National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China (NPC), which had been postponed due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus infection, was held in May. There, it approved the draft of the "Hong Kong National Security Maintenance Law" (Hong Kong National Security Law), which applies the mainland security law to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The purpose of the bill was to abolish the "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong provided for in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984. Legislative procedure rapidly progressed in the Standing Committee of the NPC, and the bill was passed on June 30. President Xi Jinping signed the enforcement order. At 11:00 p.m. on the same day, the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region announced that the law had been enacted with “immediate effect".

One hour later, on July 1, it was the 23rd anniversary of return of Hong Kong amidst the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party. Deng Xiaoping, China's supreme leader, had promised 50 years of “one country, two systems" to the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at their summit meeting, but this was suddenly cut by more than half. That was probably meant as a floral decoration to highlight the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the party.

In mid-May, Xu Zhangrun, Professor at Tsinghua University, who had been a severe critic of the dictatorship of Xi Jinping, wrote a piece heavily criticizing Xi’s coercive measures against the Coronavirus, and this piece of writing gained widespread popularity via SNS. I happened to read this after the Hong Kong National Security Law came into effect. As I saw the title "China, a Lone Ship of State on the Vast Ocean of Global Civilization", there were overlapping images in my eyes of the power which had made a desperate effort to hide the epidemic in China from the eyes of the world and of the power which rushed to rule Hong Kong ignoring worldwide concerns. The metaphor of "lone ship" is poignant. A small ship adrift with 1.4 billion people on board!

With the Hong Kong National Security Law in effect, China has now opened a law enforcement agency, the National Security Office, allowing the country to directly enforce Chinese law, enabling it to evade Hong Kong courts, and prosecute people from Hong Kong in mainland Chinese courts. The Chinese government is no longer bound by the "one country, two systems."

The "one country, two systems" policy written into the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration is the brainchild of Deng Xiaoping, who was the supreme leader of China at that time. China guaranteed that it would retain a British-style "rule of law" and social system for 50 years after retrieving Hong Kong's sovereignty. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was registered with the United Nations as a formal treaty.

However, President Xi Jinping at the 19th Communist Party Congress in 2017, declared that the "Deng Xiaoping era" had ended, and "Xi Jinping’s new era" had begun. As the supreme leader of the “Xi Jinping era" is President Xi, the policy of the "Deng Xiaoping era" was no longer valid. After that, Deng Xiaoping's “reform and open-door policy” was negated and the return to the "Mao Zedong era" began. However, if they dared to think that they can even break international promises, China would have to be prepared to become a “lone ship” adrift in the civilized world.

That said, the Xi administration did not invalidate the Sino-British Joint Statement on a whim. In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reportedly notified the British Foreign Office of the invalidation of the Sino-British Joint Statement. Nonetheless, the British government at that time invited Xi as a Guest of State, received investment in large-scale projects such as nuclear power generation and praised the “Golden Age” with China.

It is not someone else's problem either. In October 1978, Deng Xiaoping came to Japan to exchange the ratification documents for the Japan-China Peace and Amity Treaty and had a press conference at the Japan Press Club. Regarding the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, he said “we can put it on the shelf until we have a good idea which is acceptable to the both sides in the next generation". Now in the era of Xi Jinping, these words of Deng Xiaoping are no longer followed. President Xi’s postponed visit to Japan as a State Guest, if it had taken place as scheduled, would have been the dawn of the "Golden Age" between Japan and China, in which the agreement on the shelving of the Senkaku Islands issue would be invalidated.

At any rate who will be happy with the enactment of the Hong Kong National Security Law? How is anyone in the world to be happy with the arrival of the Xi Jinping era? What is Xi thinking about? The answer finally came out of his own mouth. "Generational succession of revolutionary armed struggle"- China intends to continue its armed struggle until they rule the "community of common human destiny".

After the signing of the enforcement order of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the movement of Xi disappeared from the Chinese media for 20 days. During this period, Coronavirus infections recurred in northern China and southern China was hit by a major flood. However, Xi appeared on July 21 at the roundtable discussion of business executives held in Beijing.

The next day, he visited Jilin Province in the opposite direction of the flood-stricken area. In addition to visiting the Air Force School and an automobile company, he made a speech at the Siping Battle Memorial Hall of the People's Liberation War. "(The battle between the Communist Party army and the Nationalist Party army was) only one battle in the process of revolutionary armed struggle." He also added, "The great undertaking of socialism will be handed down from generation to generation."

What Xi is thinking of is the succession of this "liberation war," which was not completed in his father’s generation. Following the Hong Kong National Security Law, he may well be programing in his mind "armed liberation" of Taiwan, "anti-US, pro-North Korea war" on the Korean Peninsula, or even the “liberation of Ryukyu liberation".

The day after Xi’s speech in Jillin, US Secretary of State Pompeo declared the Xi regime as that of a "bankrupt totalitarian ideology" and stated that they would abandon the old paradigm of blind engagement with China. The confrontation between China and the United States has come to a crucial stage. The cause lies not in the United States, but in the Chinese leader who cannot wake up from the dream of a revolutionary armed struggle.

Hidetoshi Kaneko is a Mainichi Newspaper contributing editor.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

金子 秀敏 / ジャーナリスト

2020年 8月 28日



5月中旬、習近平主席の独裁政治を厳しく批判してきた許章潤・清華大学教授が、習政権の強権的新型コロナ対策を痛烈に批判する文章を書き、SNSで広まっていた。たまたま香港国安法の発効後、その文章を読んだ。「世界文明という大洋上の中国という孤舟」(China, a Lone Ship of State on the Vast Ocean of Global Civilisation)というタイトルを見て、世界の目から中国の疫情を隠蔽しようと狂奔する権力の姿と、世界の懸念を無視して香港支配に突き進んだ権力の姿が重なった。「孤舟」という比喩が印象的だ。14億の人間を乗せ、針路なく漂う小舟。










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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > China in isolation for its handling of Hong Kong