Under cover of COVID

Having spread the COVID-19 epidemic to the rest of the world, the Chinese Communist Party has put it to its own uses. Reporting from Hong Kong, the Washington Post’s Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin noted one such use that has mostly escaped notice. It is cracking down on Hong Kong. The Post’s troubling April 24 story is headlined “One country, one system: The week that China shredded its promise on Hong Kong.” (The link goes to the accessible version of the story posted at Jewish World Review.) Mahtani and McLaughlin report, for example:

With the world distracted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, China has carried out a power grab in the former British colony, whose way of life it had pledged to preserve until 2047. In recent days, authorities have said for the first time that Beijing’s representative offices in the territory can “supervise” Hong Kong’s internal affairs – a step that legal experts say violates its constitutional firewall with the mainland. The Basic Law stipulates that the city should run its own affairs, including the police and immigration system, apart from defense and foreign relations.

Beijing officials also called for Hong Kong to introduce a national security law – shelved when an earlier attempt at its introduction sparked massive protests in 2003 – and reached further into the city’s legislature with attacks on pro-democracy lawmakers.

The shift “signals the death of the ‘two systems,’ ” said Eric Cheung, a legal scholar at the University of Hong Kong. “It is quite clear that they are now bringing the mainland system, the mainland idea of supervision and rule of law, here.”

The upshot is that the Hong Kong the world knew – a capitalist enclave where political freedoms were protected and the rule of law applied – is severely compromised.

Yi-Zheng Lian is the former editor of the Hong Kong Economic Journal. He reports to the same effect in the New York Times op-ed column “China Has a Post-Pandemic Dream for Hong Kong.” He concludes: “[T]here can be no doubt anymore that Beijing is determined to dismantle what remains of Hong Kong’s freedoms — and, much as it has done with Tibet and Xinjiang, to ensure that Hong Kong is autonomous only in name.”

All of which strongly suggests why the CCP will be going all out to support Biden’s bid for the presidency. Biden’s views on China represent yet another case that lends weight to Robert Gates’s assessment of Biden’s consistent record of error on “nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

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