U.S.-China relations part 2

Mr. Xi’s decision to visit Hong Kong despite a recent rise in Covid infections in the city underscores the importance of signaling his control over the former British colony. This is Mr. Xi’s first time in Hong Kong since pro-democracy protesters mounted a serious challenge to Beijing’s rule in 2019 that roiled the territory for months. In the years since, Mr. Xi has enforced a sweeping crackdown on dissent, with the arrests of thousands of people, including leading opposition figures, lawmakers, academics, newspaper editors and a retired Catholic bishop. Mr. Xi has not left China in 29 months. His absence has been increasingly conspicuous, especially as a flurry of diplomacy arose in response to the war in Ukraine and the ensuing political, military and economic fallout.
Hong Kong was not supposed to look like this, 25 years after the end of British colonial rule and midway through China’s promised 50 years of autonomy and personal freedoms. There are now more than 1,000 political prisoners languishing in Hong Kong’s jails, among them activists, students, journalists and lawyers. Dozens have been jailed for a year or longer without bail in the legal limbo of “pretrial detention.” Some 47 opposition politicians face possible life in prison because they participated in a primary election, considered subversive in the new Hong Kong.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s departure from office Thursday closes what’s arguably been the most difficult chapter in Hong Kong’s history since its return to Chinese rule a quarter century ago. Lam’s five-year tenure saw more than 1 million people march against her government, and months of often violent street protests, after she tried to allow extradition to China. Beijing responded with unprecedented interventions in the former British colony’s legislative and electoral framework that crushed open dissent in the once freewheeling city.
Taiwan
Trade talks between Taiwan and the United States this week give the self-ruled island a chance to accelerate exports to the giant Western consumer market and away from mainland China, a political adversary that many Taiwanese firms still depend on for business, according to officials and analysts. The initiative, announced by US President Joe Biden’s administration on June 1, calls on the US to support Taiwanese agriculture, which has lost consumers in mainland China over political spats, and to engage more in its digital economy – a sector that US officials hope to avoid in China over intellectual property concerns.
A U.S. Navy aircraft’s flight through the Taiwan Strait last week demonstrated a U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. military said on Tuesday, after China complained it endangered peace and stability.
The main opposition Kuomingtang (KMT) party on Wednesday (June 29) issued a statement refuting claims by the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) that Taiwan is ruled by Beijing and the Taiwan Strait is its “internal waters.” TAO Spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) claimed the People’s Republic of China (PRC) replaced the Republic of China (ROC) on Oct. 1, 1949 to “become the sole legal government of China, the sole representative in the world, and fully enjoys the right to exercise China’s sovereignty, including sovereignty over Taiwan.” In response, the KMT issued a statement on its website pointing out, “The Republic of China has always been a sovereign and independent country, and the People’s Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan.” The KMT condemned TAO’s claims as “not only hurting the feelings of Taiwanese, but also being detrimental to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”

Western nations need to do more to ensure Taiwan can protect itself against China, the UK’s foreign secretary has urged. Liz Truss said she was working with allies in the G7 group to ensure the self-ruled island has “the defence capability it needs”. She added the West had failed to arm Ukraine early enough to deter Russia from its invasion earlier this year. It comes amid fresh tensions between China and the US over Taiwan. In an apparent change of tone, US President Joe Biden stated unequivocally that the US would defend the island if China attacked.
Taiwan on Wednesday rebuffed a complaint from the Philippines about live fire drills around a Taiwan-controlled island deep in the South China Sea, saying it had the right to do so and always gives issues a warning of its exercises.
Xinjiang
A new U.S. law meant to penalize forced labor in China’s western Xinjiang region is showcasing the still-fearsome reach of American economic power—and its limits. The law is already having a marked impact on one of Xinjiang’s key industries—cotton—and has the potential to seriously damage China’s textiles industry, the world’s largest. But the lack of impact on another key Xinjiang product—polysilicon, used to make solar panels—showcases the law’s limits. Companies in both sectors have been implicated in the use of forced labor, according to the U.S. government.
Matthew P. Robertson, a data scientist with VOC, and Jacob Lavee write: China’s crime against humanity—of massive executions by organ-procuring physicians—has been accomplished secretly under the headlights of operating rooms, and so for decades has been hard to detect. The global silence with which these crimes have been met is unconscionable—crimes similar to those of the Nazi doctors are repeating themselves in front of our eyes, and yet the world remains quiet. It is high time for Western scientists, doctors, and the rest of humanity to reaffirm the sanctity of the Hippocratic oath and give meaning to the Jewish slogan after the Holocaust: Never again.
The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

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