Jonathan Eida | Opinion
We are already beginning to see the results of China’s ruthless takeover of Hong Kong. The moment the Chinese Government broke the ‘one country, two systems’ treaty by passing the ‘Security Bill’, the results were inevitable. At least ten people have now been arrested under this law, including one man who had the audacity to brandish a pro-independence flag! It was also reported that over three hundred citizens had been detained for protesting. The squeezing of liberties from the citizens of Hong Kong is just the beginning before the inevitable, forceful integration of Hong Kong into Chinese control.
The Chinese Government is obviously, once again, the antagonist in this situation. However, this does give the West another chance to evaluate our approach with regard to our foreign policy and the role of intergovernmental organisations for the future.
First and foremost, the situation arising in Hong Kong should raise serious questions about the United Nations and whether its continued existence can be justified. Founded after the Second World War, the UN’s main objective was to create peace and security among nations. Specifically, the organisation was put in place following Nazi rule in Germany, to stop any more expansionist regimes from having a little wander over to other sovereign nations and taking their land.
Judging by its reaction to Hong Kong, it has forgotten this. The UN, instead of preventing conflict, appears to view effectively overlooking the whole situation as the preferred option. Hong Kong, it seems, has joined the list of UN fiascos, including the failure to stop the Rwandan genocide and the annexation of Crimea by the Russians.
Giving the UN the benefit of the doubt for a minute, say they do not have the capacity to stop the Chinese takeover. We must ask ourselves: what purpose does the UN serve at all? If aggressive regimes like China and Russia go about their business willy-nilly, without any consideration for what the UN has to say, then is the UN at this point null and void?
This move by China has also put all international treaties under renewed scrutiny. Seemingly, when dealing with world superpowers, there are no safeguards to ensure that they fulfil their duties. Let’s be frank about the situation in Hong Kong: China has completely ignored the deal they stuck with the UK and we could do nothing about it. So where is the accountability on these big nations to fulfil any of their current or future agreements?
Therefore, since all agreements could well seem disposable on the basis of this evidence, it is incumbent upon us to review any other international agreements we may have, especially with the world’s more volatile regimes.
Then, we must revaluate our general foreign policy with regard to China specifically.
Be under no illusions: our influence on the world stage has been dwindling for over half a century. Our army, for one thing, has been whittled down through an abrasive torrent of negativity and disdain from all sides of our political spectrum. There has also been a push, following the Iraq War, to side with an isolationist foreign policy which focuses more on defensive goals than offensive operations. The case for isolationism is understandable; however, the downside of this policy is that it allows places like Hong Kong – a major financial ally in the Asia region – to be brutalised by a tyrannical regime, which will have both financial and humanitarian implications.
Our isolationist approach may also cause us issues further down the line. Hong Kong is a statement of intent from China and is just one of the first stops on their imperialist journey. Chinese investment in Africa has been dubbed “neo-colonialist”, and for good reason. This is not just an investment for China; it is about creating a network of allies that strengthens its position against all threats. If we look at the countries supporting China’s move on Hong Kong, we can see the effect that their investment has had.
Fifty-three countries in total supported China’s actions in Hong Kong. The formation of this coalition consists of the usual, anti-Western, morally-bereft nations such as Iran and North Korea. These included forty-odd nations, mainly from Africa, which are being puppeteered by China through the strings of debt and reliance on China’s ‘Belt and Road infrastructure’ projects. This meant that, in a vote of the Human Rights Council, the ratio of support for China was fifty-three to twenty-seven. Although this vote means very little in the grand scheme of things, such a shift could help develop China into an even bigger threat.
There will come a point when the nations in the West, be it us in the UK, the US or elsewhere, have to stand up to Chinese aggression. Giving up an ally and being emasculated on the world stage will only incentivise China to be more brazen in their strategies.
Now, some believe that simply giving passage to millions of Hong Kong residents is a viable solution. It is not. I have no issue with bringing refugees from Hong Kong to the UK – in fact, having people who actually appreciate Britain and its values may help teach the self-hating Islingtonites a lesson in gratitude!
However, this strategy firstly does nothing to prevent Chinese aggression in the future. Without sanctions, the threat will endure and only get worse. Secondly, what happens if China pulls a similar scheme against another nation – will we be taking in their citizens too? China’s ambitions in the South China Sea and their ongoing conflict with Taiwan make this eventuality a possibility. Thirdly, the BNO status that would give citizens a passage to the UK is estimated to cover around three million people. Now, I am no mathematician, but Hong Kong has a population of seven-and-a-half million people. Even if all of those with BNO status take up the offer, this still leaves over four million people trapped in the clutches of this radical regime.
The most apt response to this situation will be up for debate. Whether it is to introduce economic sanctions on China, in addition to cancelling the Huawei 5G and Hinckley point nuclear power station projects, or to use military options, what is clear is that something further must be done. It is also evident that the intergovernmental organisations that profess to ensure peace cannot be relied upon to help solve the situation.