Beijing: Ignoring threats from Washington, China stripped another layer of autonomy from Hong Kong on Thursday, ploughing ahead with a plan that would ban any form of dissent deemed subversive in the territory reclaimed from Britain more than two decades ago.
But even as the plan was approved by China’s top legislative body, and Chinese officials taunted the United States as an imperious meddler, Premier Li Keqiang struck a conciliatory tone. While offering no concessions to US demands, he called for close trade relations between the two countries.
The clash over Hong Kong and other issues points to the quandary facing China as it grows in power and contends with an increasingly aggressive Trump administration. The Chinese leadership does not want to incinerate the relationship with the US, given the enormous economic benefits. Nor is it willing to back down, reflecting divisions in Beijing between hawks and more moderating forces.
“Anything the US says or does or will do, China will refuse,” Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said in a telephone interview.
With both countries blaming each other for the coronavirus pandemic, trade disputes and now the crisis roiling Hong Kong, the result has been a downward spiral of actions and responses that may not let up before President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign ends in November.
The back-and-forth between Washington and Beijing intensified in the past two days.
- Li Zuocheng told Beijing’s Great Hall of People today: ‘The people’s armed forces will take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions’
- It is very rare for such a senior figure to make such a public threat against Taiwan
- Beijing claims Taiwan, but the island democracy refutes it is part of China
- It comes as China is cracking down on Hong Kong’s democratic powers
China will attack Taiwan if there is no other way of stopping it from becoming independent, one of the country’s most senior generals said today.
Li Zuocheng, chief of the Joint Staff Department and member of the Central Military Commission told Beijing’s Great Hall of the People: ‘If the possibility for peaceful reunification is lost, the people’s armed forces will, with the whole nation, including the people of Taiwan, take all necessary steps to resolutely smash any separatist plots or actions.’
He added: ‘We do not promise to abandon the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures, to stabilise and control the situation in the Taiwan Strait.’
The general’s ferocious rhetoric comes amid global outcry over Beijing’s national security legislation in Hong Kong which has once again seen violent clashes between riot police and protesters.