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Category Archives: Politics

Chart: Taiwan’s Thinly Weaved Diplomatic Web

Source : Statista

China Sanctioning Taiwan Like Moving a Stone, Dropping it on Your Own Foot

Ralph Jennings, Ji Siqi and Luna Sun wrote . . . . . . . . .

Mainland China could target hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Taiwanese investments and two-way trade if tensions with the self-ruled island worsen after a sharp slide this week due to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, analysts said.

But they are targeting the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and probably saving any moves against high-value exports or direct investments as a final move, the analysts added, as measures against Taiwan could ripple back to the mainland.

“[Taiwanese] companies are such an integral part of the Chinese value chain that it becomes difficult to put too much pressure on those trade routes,” said Zennon Kapron, the Singapore-based director of financial industry research firm Kapronasia.

The People’s Liberation Army kick-started large-scale military drills following Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday night, while Beijing has already rolled out various economic sanctions.

Chinese customs suspended imports of Taiwanese citrus fruits, chilled white scallops and frozen mackerel from Wednesday, extending the list of banned items to more than 1,000 products as cross-Strait relations have deteriorated in recent years.

The Ministry of Commerce also suspended exports of natural sand, a raw material needed for the construction of transport infrastructure and water projects.

“China’s constant opinion has been that any unilateral economic sanctions are double-edged. However, Pelosi’s visit might well push China into restricting certain imports from Taiwan and the US, but I do think that such restrictions will be very limited,” said Tao Jingzhou, an international arbitrator who has practised in Beijing, Hong Kong and London.

“As retaliation, the US might increase export control measures for technology and also increase scrutiny of activities of Chinese companies in the US. This visit will further deteriorate the US-China relations across the board.”

Mainland China will probably strike at farming and small manufacturers in parts of southern Taiwan where President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party has its main strongholds, said Chen Yi-fan, an assistant professor of diplomacy and international relations at Tamkang University in Taiwan.

Beijing hopes to influence Taiwan’s local elections in November, Chen said, with the party that wins most seats often shaping the outcome of the presidential race two years later.

Tsai’s ruling party takes a guarded view toward China, while its main opposition prefers a more conciliatory stance.

Beijing is expected to release sanctions “bit by bit” to gauge responses in Taiwan, said Yu Xiang, an adjunct fellow at the Centre for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University.

Export bans can be cancelled as quickly as they are announced and some have called the existing suspensions largely symbolic because farming and fishery exports make up just a fraction of Taiwan’s US$765 billion economy.

China had already banned imports of Taiwanese confectionery, biscuits, bread and aquatic products in the lead up to Pelosi’s visit.

“Processed food is not even in the top 10 items that Taiwan exports to China, so China’s move is currently only symbolic,” said Darson Chiu, a fellow with the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research’s international affairs department in Taipei.

Taiwan’s export economy runs on shipments of semiconductors and consumer electronics, followed by machinery and petrochemicals.

But to penalise key goods would hurt numerous Taiwanese people, stoking anti-Chinese sentiment, and strike at the mainland’s own economy, some analysts said.

“Taiwanese businesses are a major component of China investors, and Taiwan is part of China,” said Hong Hao, an author and independent China economist.

“Therefore, to sanction Taiwan is just like moving a stone and dropping it on your own foot, plus it deepens divisions between the two sides.”

The US-China trade war, which has been ongoing since 2018, has shown that sanctions aimed at one country hurt both sides, said Wang Huiyao, founder of Beijing-based think tank, the Centre for China and Globalisation.

“In the end, the US consumer and companies are paying the price for that. I don’t think that the economic sanctions are going to work,” Wang said.

“In the long run, we really have to find a way not to dissolve the status quo and really keep the peace and prosperity in the region.”

Any ban on imports of Taiwanese petrochemicals, machinery, transport goods and textiles would also violate the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement trade deal signed by the two sides in 2010 when political relations had reached a peak, Chiu added.

Taiwanese investors have put money into mainland Chinese since the 1980s, and their 4,200 enterprises employ numerous staff, while they also help to drive economies near Shanghai and in the Pearl River Delta.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology and Pegatron make equipment for US multinational technology company Apple at mega factories in mainland China.

Lu Xiang, a researcher on US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said sanction will not be used as a major tool and that Beijing will refrain from escalating to a full-scale economic war.

“The mainland still aims for economic integration with the island over the long run. Companies which support pro-independence and some industries will be sanctioned or hit, but the impact will be limited. Mainland China is one of the only few trading partners that Taiwan has maintained a trade surplus with,” said Lu.

Chinese smartphone makers particularly depend on Taiwanese semiconductors, which the Boston Consulting Group said makes up 92 per cent of world’s capacity.

“I think the challenge for mainland China is the fact that it is so heavily reliant on the high-end chips and technology that’s coming out of Taiwan,” Kapron added.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway part of its territory and has vowed to take back control of the island, by force if necessary, while it also resents US influence in Taiwan’s military or political space.

But Taiwanese leaders will make no policy changes in response to sanctions, according to Chen from Tamkang University, as neither side wants to look weak.

Tsai opposes China’s goal of unification with Taiwan and has courted foreign support for her cause since taking office in 2016.

“Now there is a deep distrust across the strait, so nothing Tsai does will bring comfort to the other side,” Chen said.

The Taipei government made no immediate comment in response to Wednesday’s trade bans, but Lo Ping-cheng, minister without portfolio and spokesman, said the cabinet would help business operators “respond appropriately” to any fallout from Pelosi’s visit.


Source : Yahoo!

Hong Kong: When Is a Colony Not a Colony?

John Burns wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Education Bureau, responding to a Legislative Council (LegCo) discussion, has offered an official view – the bureau’s “stance” – on whether or not Hong Kong was a colony. Views had been expressed in the LegCo, the bureau pointed out, that “Hong Kong was not a colony.”

“We must base our interpretation of history on historical facts and refer to different perspectives,” the bureau wrote. Indeed. The bureau’s stance is an official interpretation, nothing more or less. It is not in some sense “correct,” but simply an official interpretation.

The bureau’s interpretation is nothing new. The Communist Party of China and the central government have propagated this stance for many years without much traction, and now the bureau is passing it on to the people of Hong Kong as the government’s “official” position. The bureau is thus aligning itself with the central government. We should recognise this move for what it is.

There is much in the statement with which any fair-minded person could agree. The British occupied Hong Kong by force and coerced the Qing court to sign various treaties that produced colonial Hong Kong.

The bureau quite rightly points out that in 1972 Chinese authorities demanded that Hong Kong and Macau be removed from a United Nations list of “colonial territories” that should be granted independence. Removing Hong Kong and Macau from this list did not mean that they ceased to be colonies, but that they ceased to be colonies that should be granted independence.

The bureau claims that to “use the word colony to describe the status of Hong Kong is inappropriate (不恰当, bu qiadang),” shying away from saying that it is incorrect. The bureau goes on to demand that students and the people of Hong Kong must have a “correct (正确, zhengque, proper) understanding of the historical facts.”

This implies that there is only one legitimate interpretation and gives the lie to the bureau’s appeal to “different perspectives.” Perhaps the bureau meant that students and the people of Hong Kong should be aware of the official interpretation. I agree.

What to make of the official view that Hong Kong was not a colony? This interpretation is grounded in a partial understanding of Hong Kong’s legal status before 1997. We need to understand that authorities make law to protect the interests of those in power. The law has a clear political dimension, which the bureau conveniently ignores.

British law, which applied to Hong Kong, recognised Hong Kong as a crown colony. The basis of Hong Kong’s status as a colony may be found in the Letters Patent and the Royal Instructions. The bureau is saying, “Well, your (British) law is not our law.” Okay.

Still from 1841 until 1997 Chinese official entities in Hong Kong recognised and obeyed British law in Hong Kong. That is Chinese state actors in Hong Kong recognised that they were bound by this law. They settled disputes in Hong Kong based on this law.

Thus, while the Chinese government may claim that the Sino-British treaties establishing Hong Kong as a colony had “no legal effect under international law,” Chinese and foreign actors in Hong Kong behaved as if these laws had legal effect. To deny this is to fail to recognise historical fact. Hong Kong was a colony and was recognized as such by Chinese and foreign state actors.

Moreover, colonial Hong Kong was the lived experience of the people of Hong Kong before 1997. The colonial laws of Hong Kong bound them, just as they bound Chinese state actors in Hong Kong. To say that Hong Kong was not a colony is to deny this experience. Such a denial does a great disservice to those of us trying to understand the behaviour of people living in Hong Kong.

Finally, remember that the “through train” brought most of Hong Kong’s colonial political, economic, and legal institutions into the city. They are with us today. Repeating the official narrative that Hong Kong was not a colony undermines the very real need, recognised by the Communist Party, to decolonise Hong Kong, including our civil service, education system, and system of public finance. Starting from the position that the people of Hong Kong were delusional, as the bureau’s stance seems to suggest, gets us nowhere.

The legacy of colonialism in Hong Kong – a system built on racism and coercion – must be confronted and not denied. The Education Bureau fails in its mission to educate when it implies that there is only one correct interpretation of Hong Kong’s colonial history, that is, the official version.

At its most basic, by relying the 1972 UN decision to remove Hong Kong from a list of colonies that should be granted independence, and taking that action out of context, the Education Bureau teaches us that historical facts do not matter, and toeing the line is the best way forward. This is very disappointing from educators.

So, to the Education Bureau: remember your mission is to educate. This means producing citizens capable of independent and critical appraisal of various perspectives, which the bureau claims to value, including its own official stance.


Source : Hong Kong Free Press

Patriotic Fervour Erupts on Chinese Social Media Over Pelosi’s Visit

Patriotic Fervour Erupts on Chinese Social Media Over Pelosi’s Visit

Eduardo Baptista wrote . . . . . . . . .

The sight of the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi arriving in Taiwan late on Tuesday was too much to bear for many mainland China internet users, who wanted a more muscular response from their government.

“Going to bed yesterday night, I was so angry I could not sleep,” blogger Xiaoyuantoutiao wrote on Wednesday.

“But what angers me is not the online clamours for ‘starting a fight’, ‘spare the island but not its people’…(but that) this old she-devil, she actually dares to come!”

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. But Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims and says only its people can decide the island’s future.

Hashtags related to Pelosi’s visit, such as “the resolve to realise national reunification is rock solid”, went viral on China’s Weibo microblogging platform. By Wednesday, about a dozen of these patriotic hashtags had racked up several billion views.

Some bloggers even regarded Pelosi’s temerity as justification for an immediate invasion of Taiwan, with many users posting the term “there is only one China”.

Others said China’s military should have done more to stop her plane from landing, and thousands of users mocked a viral Weibo post published by an official People’s Liberation Army account last week that had simply read “prepare for war!”.

“In the future if you are not preparing to strike, don’t make these statements to deceive the common people,” said one user.

The highest level U.S. visit to Taiwan in 25 years has been furiously condemned by China, which has demonstrated its anger with a burst of military activity in the surrounding waters, and by summoning the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, and announcing the suspension of several agricultural imports from Taiwan. read more

Countering U.S. support for Taiwan is one of Beijing’s most important foreign policy issues, and state-controlled Chinese media has helped ensure public opinion firmly backs Beijing’s stance.

A livestream tracking the journey of Pelosi’s plane to Taipei by Chinese state media on China’s dominant chat app WeChat was watched by 22 million users on Tuesday.

But Weibo crashed before her plane landed, leaving users in the dark for about 30 minutes to an hour before and after Pelosi stepped onto the airport tarmac.

Without mentioning events in Taiwan, Weibo said on Wednesday the platform crashed because its broadband capacity was overstretched.

But the level of outrage on Weibo still hit fever pitch, with irate netizens calling for stronger military and economic countermeasures against Taiwan and the United States far outnumbering voices of moderation.

Still, there were people urging long-term patience in the face of mounting domestic challenges and unfavourable global sentiment towards China, as well as some for peace.

“If there really is a war, China will endure the suffering, currently the world powers have not really chosen team China, we would not get any help. Just like Russia, it would be a bit of a lonely war,” wrote one user.

Weibo, which censored calls for peace and criticism of Russia following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, did not promote hashtags that criticised the outburst of nationalist fervour in response to Pelosi’s visit.

Qin Quanyao, a Beijing-based blogger, wrote an essay on Tuesday on WeChat in which he noted the current online jingoism harked back to the time of late Chairman Mao Zedong, when primary school children sang songs about the “liberation” of Taiwan.

“From Weibo, WeChat to various online platforms, the atmosphere suddenly became tense, seemingly returning to the era of ‘we must liberate Taiwan’ when we were children,” he wrote.


Source : Reuters

China Seeks to Stop UN Rights Chief from Releasing Xinjiang Report

Emma Farge wrote . . . . . . . . .

China is asking the United Nations human rights chief to bury a highly-anticipated report on human rights violations in Xinjiang, according to a Chinese letter seen by Reuters and confirmed by diplomats from three countries who received it.

United Nations High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has faced severe criticism from civil society for being too soft on China during a May visit and has since said she will refrain from seeking a second term for personal reasons.

But before she leaves at the end of August, she has pledged to publish a report into the western Chinese region of Xinjiang. Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Xinjiang’s Uyghur inhabitants, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps. China has vigorously denied the allegations.

The letter authored by China expressed “grave concern” about the Xinjiang report and aims to halt its release, said four sources – the three diplomats and a rights expert who all spoke on condition of anonymity. They said China began circulating it among diplomatic missions in Geneva from late June and asked countries to sign it to show their support.

“The assessment (on Xinjiang), if published, will intensify politicisation and bloc confrontation in the area of human rights, undermine the credibility of the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), and harm the cooperation between OHCHR and member states,” the letter said, referring to Bachelet’s office.

“We strongly urge Madame High Commissioner not to publish such an assessment.”

Liu Yuyin, a spokesperson for China’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, did not say whether the letter had been sent or respond to questions about its contents.

Liu said that nearly 100 countries had recently expressed their support to China on Xinjiang-related issues “and their objection to interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights”.

This support was voiced through public statements at the last U.N. Human Rights Council session, which ended on July 8, and through the “joint letter”, Liu added, using a term denoting China and the other signatories.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters that Bachelet would have witnessed a “real Xinjiang with a safe and stable society” when she visited the region during her May trip to China.

The spokesperson said attempts by some countries to “smear China’s image” using the Xinjiang issue would not succeed.

It was not clear whether Bachelet had received the letter, and an OHCHR spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

The Xinjiang report is being finalised prior to public release, he added, saying this includes the standard practice of sharing a copy with China for its comments.

The report is set to address China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority. A team of rights experts began gathering evidence for it more than three years ago but its release has been delayed for months for unclear reasons.

Reuters was not able to establish how many signatures the letter received. One of the four sources, a Geneva-based diplomat, replied to the letter positively giving his country’s support.

Another version of the letter also seen by Reuters was more critical of Bachelet’s actions, saying that the Xinjiang report was done “without mandate and in serious breach of OHCHR duties”, and would undermine her personal credibility.

It was not clear who edited it or why. The diplomat who signed the letter said the softer version was the final one.

DIRECT LOBBYING

China, like other countries, sometimes seeks to drum up support for its political statements within the Geneva-based rights council through diplomatic memos which others are asked to support.

These can sometimes influence decisions at the 47-member Council, whose actions are not legally binding but can authorise investigations into suspected violations.

Two of the Geneva diplomats said China’s letter represents a rare example of evidence of Beijing seeking to lobby Bachelet directly. Sometimes, they say, countries find it hard to say no to China on human rights issues, given close economic ties.

The memo comes at a critical juncture for the U.N. rights body in the last few weeks of Bachelet’s term, with no successor yet nominated. Bachelet, 70, is due to leave office on Aug. 31.


Source : Reuters

Video: Saudi Foreign Minister Provides Account of Crown Prince-Biden Khashoggi Discussion

Prince Faisal bin Farhan was responding to Arab News question at conclusion of Jeddah summit.

Watch video at Arab News (3:37 minutes) . . . .

Charts: Some Notable Changes in Hong Kong Since July 1, 1997

China Has a PR Problem — and It’s Not Just Over Hong Kong. Here’s Why in Three Charts.

Lili Pike wrote . . . . . . . . .

A new survey shows more and more people in advanced economies hold unfavorable views of China.

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping will preside over an elaborate celebration of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the Chinese mainland, a return that he has said “ended past humiliation and marked a major step forward toward the complete reunification of China.” Perhaps in an attempt to preserve that narrative, the government has warned activists not to protest and blocked several media outlets from attending. Meanwhile, on another side of the world, during this week’s G-7 and NATO summits, Western leaders are casting China as a rising challenge that must be countered.

These are just the latest examples of China’s efforts to shape and spread a positive narrative about its place in the world — and other countries’ attempts to push back. And according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday, it’s clear that — in several parts of the world — China is losing the battle of narratives. The data from more than 20,000 respondents in 19 advanced economies reveals highly critical views of China on a range of issues, as well as a shared view that China’s influence is growing.

As tensions rise between the West and China, the survey results offer insights into the depth of the division and what is driving negative views of China.

A dark view of China and President Xi

Pew has conducted this survey since 2002. This latest iteration finds that perceptions of China are at historically negative levels. Critical views of China spiked in 2020, after the outbreak of the covid pandemic, and have remained at similar levels since. Of the 19 countries surveyed, the middle-of-the-pack view was 68 percent unfavorable toward China, with Japan holding the most negative level at 87 percent. The U.S. was close behind at 82 percent. European countries and South Korea were also found to have widely negative views, while Singapore and Malaysia — countries closer to China’s orbit — had a warmer outlook.

For most countries, this level of disapproval has risen well above pre-pandemic levels. Year to year, the most pronounced increases in negative views came in the U.K., U.S. and Greece. And for 10 of the countries surveyed, including the U.S., unfavorability was at an all-time high.

Better news for China came in questions about bilateral relations. Across the board, people held more positive views about bilateral relations between China and their own countries, suggesting that these relationships are relatively well managed and offering some reasons for optimism.

The survey also probed global views of Xi’s leadership as he prepares to begin a third term. Here the survey revealed a divide in opinion. When asked about their “confidence in Xi to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” Western nations as well as Japan and South Korea had highly negative to mostly negative views, while Malaysia and Singapore maintained a much friendlier position. At the high end, 85 percent of people in Sweden had “no or not much confidence at all” in Xi, whereas 69 percent of Singaporeans expressed some to a lot of confidence.

The dim view of Xi in Western nations may owe in part to his cozy relationship with Russia. Xi met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a meeting that established a “no limits” partnership between the two countries, and China has continued to toe the Kremlin line on the war. China’s relationship with Russia was highlighted as the top concern in a separate survey Pew published in April looking in greater depth at U.S. opinions toward China.

What’s driving such critical views?

More than any other issue, China’s human rights record stood out as the highest concern for those surveyed — and these concerns were closely associated with overall negative views of China.

Laura Silver, a senior researcher at Pew who co-authored the report, told Grid that economic issues had previously been more salient for respondents, but human rights have emerged as a sharper issue in recent years. This coincides with China’s increasingly harsh repression of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, and the crackdown that followed the 2019 protests in Hong Kong.

In the U.S., bipartisan attention to China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang — including a sweeping new law passed last week — has raised the profile of these issues in the American public, Silver said. Notably, in the U.S. and other Western nations, respondents said that addressing human rights issues should be prioritized above building economic relations with China. This suggests that there is public support for measures like the new Xinjiang law, which may cause economic disruption between the U.S. and China.

Fears about China’s military ambitions were also reflected in the survey. Nearly three-quarters of the countries said it was a serious issue, with the sharpest concern coming from some of China’s neighbors in the Pacific — Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The consequences

Beijing has been dismissive of past Pew surveys. Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesperson said in response to a recent U.S.-specific Pew survey that “unscrupulous and despicable” attacks on China by U.S. politicians, media and think tanks were to blame for negative views of China. “These anti-China forces, driven by ideological bias and selfish political interests, flagrantly provoked confrontation and division, disseminated political viruses, and poisoned the public opinion atmosphere in both countries.”

Not surprisingly, the Pew results are unlikely to find a wider audience in China. A separate survey conducted by the Carter Center in September found that the vast majority of Chinese people believe their country is seen in a positive light abroad, which researchers attributed to the success of China’s censorship. “The public opinion bubble within China that insulates Chinese people from information about China’s image abroad could be potentially dangerous, as China’s risky and provocative diplomatic and military endeavors overseas may face relatively little domestic constraint,” wrote Jian Xu, an assistant professor of political science at Yale-National University Singapore.

Economically, China’s declining image has also come with consequences. Its human rights violations in Xinjiang led to the collapse of a major trade deal with the EU, and the recent Xinjiang import bans in the U.S. have already hit the region’s significant cotton industry.

However, across much of the Global South, China has worked to burnish its image through its increasing media influence. It’s difficult to say whether those efforts are paying off. Most of the countries eligible for this latest Pew survey were advanced economies, largely in Europe, because the pandemic has disrupted research in poorer countries where online surveys aren’t feasible. The 2019 Pew survey, the last to capture a greater set of low-income countries, showed generally more positive views of China in those nations. But Silver said those results might not be repeated today, in particular, because China’s response to the pandemic may have changed countries’ views.

Joshua Kurlantzick of the Council on Foreign Relations recently wrote that when it comes to the West, China seems set on a more aggressive approach to foreign policy despite its sinking image. The Pew survey suggests there are costs to that approach.


Source : GRID

习近平在庆祝香港回归祖国25周年大会暨香港特别行政区第六届政府就职典礼上的讲话 (全文)

同胞们,朋友们:

今天,我们在这里隆重集会,庆祝香港回归祖国25周年,举行香港特别行政区第六届政府就职典礼。

首先,我向全体香港居民,致以诚挚的问候!向新就任的香港特别行政区第六任行政长官李家超先生,向香港特别行政区第六届政府主要官员、行政会议成员,表示热烈的祝贺!向支持“一国两制”事业、支持香港繁荣稳定的海内外同胞和国际友人,表示衷心的感谢!

中华民族五千多年的文明史,记载着华夏先民在岭南这片土地上的辛勤耕作。鸦片战争以后的中国近代史,记载着香港被迫割让的屈辱,更记载着中华儿女救亡图存的抗争。中国共产党团结带领人民进行的波澜壮阔的百年奋斗史,记载着香港同胞作出的独特而重要的贡献。有史以来,香港同胞始终同祖国风雨同舟、血脉相连。

香港回归祖国,开启了香港历史新纪元。25年来,在祖国全力支持下,在香港特别行政区政府和社会各界共同努力下,“一国两制”实践在香港取得举世公认的成功。

——回归祖国后,香港在国家改革开放的壮阔洪流中,敢为天下先,敢做弄潮儿,发挥连接祖国内地同世界各地的重要桥梁和窗口作用,为祖国创造经济长期平稳快速发展的奇迹作出了不可替代的贡献。香港积极融入国家发展大局、对接国家发展战略,继续保持高度自由开放、同国际规则顺畅衔接的优势,在构建我国更大范围、更宽领域、更深层次对外开放新格局中发挥着重要功能。香港同内地交流合作领域全面拓展、机制不断完善,香港同胞创业建功的舞台越来越宽广。

——回归祖国后,香港战胜各种风雨挑战,稳步前行。无论是国际金融危机、新冠肺炎疫情,还是一些剧烈的社会动荡,都没有阻挡住香港行进的脚步。25年来,香港经济蓬勃发展,国际金融、航运、贸易中心地位稳固,创新科技产业迅速兴起,自由开放雄冠全球,营商环境世界一流,包括普通法在内的原有法律得到保持和发展,各项社会事业全面进步,社会大局总体稳定。香港作为国际大都会的勃勃生机令世界为之赞叹。

——回归祖国后,香港同胞实现当家作主,实行“港人治港”、高度自治,香港真正的民主由此开启。25年来,以宪法和基本法为基础的特别行政区宪制秩序稳健运行,中央全面管治权得到落实,特别行政区高度自治权正确行使。制定香港国安法,建立在香港特别行政区维护国家安全的制度规范,修改完善香港选举制度,确保了“爱国者治港”原则得到落实。香港特别行政区的民主制度符合“一国两制”方针,符合香港宪制地位,有利于维护香港居民民主权利,有利于保持香港繁荣稳定,展现出光明的前景。

同胞们、朋友们!

“一国两制”是前无古人的伟大创举。“一国两制”的根本宗旨是维护国家主权、安全、发展利益,保持香港、澳门长期繁荣稳定。中央政府所做的一切,都是为了国家好,为了香港、澳门好,为了港澳同胞好。在庆祝香港回归祖国20周年大会上,我曾经讲过,中央贯彻“一国两制”方针坚持两点,一是坚定不移,确保不会变、不动摇;二是全面准确,确保不走样、不变形。今天,我要再次强调,“一国两制”是经过实践反复检验了的,符合国家、民族根本利益,符合香港、澳门根本利益,得到14亿多祖国人民鼎力支持,得到香港、澳门居民一致拥护,也得到国际社会普遍赞同。这样的好制度,没有任何理由改变,必须长期坚持!

同胞们、朋友们!

温故知新,鉴往知来。“一国两制”在香港的丰富实践给我们留下很多宝贵经验,也留下不少深刻启示。25年的实践告诉我们,只有深刻理解和准确把握“一国两制”的实践规律,才能确保“一国两制”事业始终朝着正确的方向行稳致远。

第一,必须全面准确贯彻“一国两制”方针。“一国两制”方针是一个完整的体系。维护国家主权、安全、发展利益是“一国两制”方针的最高原则,在这个前提下,香港、澳门保持原有的资本主义制度长期不变,享有高度自治权。社会主义制度是中华人民共和国的根本制度,中国共产党领导是中国特色社会主义最本质的特征,特别行政区所有居民应该自觉尊重和维护国家的根本制度。全面准确贯彻“一国两制”方针将为香港、澳门创造无限广阔的发展空间。“一国”原则愈坚固,“两制”优势愈彰显。

第二,必须坚持中央全面管治权和保障特别行政区高度自治权相统一。香港回归祖国,重新纳入国家治理体系,建立起以“一国两制”方针为根本遵循的特别行政区宪制秩序。中央政府对特别行政区拥有全面管治权,这是特别行政区高度自治权的源头,同时中央充分尊重和坚定维护特别行政区依法享有的高度自治权。落实中央全面管治权和保障特别行政区高度自治权是统一衔接的,也只有做到这一点,才能够把特别行政区治理好。特别行政区坚持实行行政主导体制,行政、立法、司法机关依照基本法和相关法律履行职责,行政机关和立法机关既互相制衡又互相配合,司法机关依法独立行使审判权。

第三,必须落实“爱国者治港”。政权必须掌握在爱国者手中,这是世界通行的政治法则。世界上没有一个国家、一个地区的人民会允许不爱国甚至卖国、叛国的势力和人物掌握政权。把香港特别行政区管治权牢牢掌握在爱国者手中,这是保证香港长治久安的必然要求,任何时候都不能动摇。守护好管治权,就是守护香港繁荣稳定,守护七百多万香港居民的切身利益。

第四,必须保持香港的独特地位和优势。中央处理香港事务,从来都从战略和全局高度加以考量,从来都以国家和香港的根本利益、长远利益为出发点和落脚点。香港的根本利益同国家的根本利益是一致的,中央政府的心同香港同胞的心也是完全连通的。背靠祖国、联通世界,这是香港得天独厚的显著优势,香港居民很珍视,中央同样很珍视。中央政府完全支持香港长期保持独特地位和优势,巩固国际金融、航运、贸易中心地位,维护自由开放规范的营商环境,保持普通法制度,拓展畅通便捷的国际联系。中央相信,在全面建设社会主义现代化国家、实现中华民族伟大复兴的历史进程中,香港必将作出重大贡献。

同胞们、朋友们!

在中国人民和中华民族迎来从站起来、富起来到强起来的伟大飞跃中,香港同胞从未缺席。当前,香港正处在从由乱到治走向由治及兴的新阶段,未来5年是香港开创新局面、实现新飞跃的关键期。机遇和挑战并存,机遇大于挑战。中央政府和香港社会各界人士对新一届特别行政区政府寄予厚望,全国各族人民对香港满怀祝福。在这里,我提出4点希望。

第一,着力提高治理水平。完善治理体系、提高治理能力、增强治理效能,是把香港特别行政区建设好、发展好的迫切需要。行政长官和特别行政区政府是香港的当家人,也是治理香港的第一责任人。要忠实履行誓言,以实际行动贯彻“一国两制”方针,维护基本法权威,为香港特别行政区竭诚奉献。要按照德才兼备的标准选贤任能,广泛吸纳爱国爱港立场坚定、管治能力突出、热心服务公众的优秀人才进入政府。要提升国家观念和国际视野,从大局和长远需要出发积极谋划香港发展。要转变治理理念,把握好政府和市场的关系,把有为政府同高效市场更好结合起来。要加强政府管理,改进政府作风,树立敢于担当、善作善成新风尚,展现良政善治新气象。

第二,不断增强发展动能。香港地位特殊,条件优良,发展空间十分广阔。中央全力支持香港抓住国家发展带来的历史机遇,主动对接“十四五”规划、粤港澳大湾区建设和“一带一路”高质量发展等国家战略。中央全力支持香港同世界各地展开更广泛、更紧密的交流合作,吸引满怀梦想的创业者来此施展抱负。中央全力支持香港积极稳妥推进改革,破除利益固化藩篱,充分释放香港社会蕴藏的巨大创造力和发展活力。

第三,切实排解民生忧难。“享天下之利者,任天下之患;居天下之乐者,同天下之忧。”我说过,人民对美好生活的向往,就是我们的奋斗目标。当前,香港最大的民心,就是盼望生活变得更好,盼望房子住得更宽敞一些、创业的机会更多一些、孩子的教育更好一些、年纪大了得到的照顾更好一些。民有所呼,我有所应。新一届特别行政区政府要务实有为、不负人民,把全社会特别是普通市民的期盼作为施政的最大追求,拿出更果敢的魄力、更有效的举措破难而进,让发展成果更多更公平惠及全体市民,让每位市民都坚信,只要辛勤工作,就完全能够改变自己和家人的生活。

第四,共同维护和谐稳定。香港是全体居民的共同家园,家和万事兴。经历了风风雨雨,大家痛感香港不能乱也乱不起,更深感香港发展不能再耽搁,要排除一切干扰聚精会神谋发展。香港居民,不管从事什么职业、信奉什么理念,只要真心拥护“一国两制”方针,只要热爱香港这个家园,只要遵守基本法和特别行政区法律,都是建设香港的积极力量,都可以出一份力、作一份贡献。希望全体香港同胞大力弘扬以爱国爱港为核心、同“一国两制”方针相适应的主流价值观,继续发扬包容共济、求同存异、自强不息、善拼敢赢的优良传统,共同创造更加美好的生活。

我们还要特别关心关爱青年人。青年兴,则香港兴;青年发展,则香港发展;青年有未来,则香港有未来。要引领青少年深刻认识国家和世界发展大势,增强民族自豪感和主人翁意识。要帮助广大青年解决学业、就业、创业、置业面临的实际困难,为他们成长成才创造更多机会。我们殷切希望,每一个香港青年都投身到建设美好香港的行列中来,用火热的青春书写精彩的人生。

同胞们、朋友们!

“愿将黄鹤翅,一借飞云空。”中华民族伟大复兴已经进入不可逆转的历史进程。推进“一国两制”在香港的成功实践是这一历史进程的重要组成部分。我们坚信,有伟大祖国的坚定支持,有“一国两制”方针的坚实保障,在实现我国第二个百年奋斗目标的新征程上,香港一定能够创造更大辉煌,一定能够同祖国人民一道共享中华民族伟大复兴的荣光!


Source : 新华视点

China’s ‘Very Dangerous Trajectory’

Michael Schuman wrote . . . . . . . . .

While most countries are trying to move past the pandemic and return to normal life, the Chinese government has kept COVID at the heart of its national policy. As China’s major cities slowly emerge from weeks of economy-crushing shutdowns, the country’s leaders continue to boast about successes battling the coronavirus, even as they wrap their citizens in a web of restrictions, struggle to find them jobs, and isolate them from the world. There’s no sign this will change any time soon, either: Chinese sports authorities recently announced that, because of its COVID controls, China would not host an Asian soccer tournament scheduled to begin in a year.

Watching China’s maniacal fight against COVID, it’s easy to wonder what’s gone awry with the country’s leadership. In fact, China’s pandemic-fighting efforts are only the most obvious example of a greater shift in the way the country is governed. The Communist regime has always been brutal, but it was at least predictable and, in its own way, practical. While much of the developing world has in recent decades been mired in political tumult, China has stood out as an oasis of stability, with a leadership team that changed with clockwork regularity and a consistent policy direction. That’s been the often-understated foundation of China’s ascent on the world stage.

More and more, however, politics is beginning to trump pragmatism. The change has been percolating for some time, but it is also inseparable from the rise of Xi Jinping. He has concentrated more political power in his own hands than any other Chinese leader in decades, in the process upending the more balanced, government-by-committee approach that has predominated since the 1980s, thus leaving the most important decisions of the state—and the future of the world’s most populous country—dependent on one man and his ideas, ambitions, and political calculations. China is entering a new era in which it “begins to veer steadily more wildly based on the whims of a single individual,” Carl Minzner, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told me. “It is a very dangerous trajectory.”

The result could alter China’s position in the world, and international economics more broadly. Multinational companies, so vital to the country’s industrial juggernaut, could redirect their investment elsewhere over worries regarding the future direction of Chinese policy, reversing China’s integration into the global economy and reordering supply chains. A less predictable foreign policy might further strain Beijing’s relations with its Asian neighbors, and with the United States. And most of all, China’s 1.4 billion people, already unable to participate in their own government, will be left adrift on the unsure waves of Chinese politics—and Xi’s predilections.

All of this amounts to a flashback to an earlier, uglier period in Chinese history. The chaotic initial decades after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 were dominated by the political machinations and ideological zeal of Mao Zedong, the regime’s founder. He commanded such authority that his every utterance was Communist scripture. This unchecked power, however, caused the horrors of the Great Leap Forward (1958–61), which left an estimated 30 million dead from famine, and the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), which convulsed Chinese society in violence and disorder. When Mao died in 1976, he bequeathed his successors a government in tatters and a nation in desperate poverty.

The reform movement that followed was, to a degree, a reaction against the vicissitudes of one-man rule. China’s new leader, Deng Xiaoping, did not wish to expunge Mao’s legacy. His contributions “cannot be obliterated,” Deng once said. But he and his fellow reformers did overhaul the way China was ruled. Out went Mao’s personality cult; in came a governing system based on power sharing, with regular leadership transitions and a well-defined policy platform underpinned by Deng’s mantra of “reform and opening up.” Though the system still constrained public discourse, within the halls of power, this broader framework allowed for greater discussion of policy and an infusion of expertise. The Chinese government became known for its technocratic skill, especially in managing the complex process of economic development. Daniel Bell, the dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at China’s Shandong University, went so far as to suggest renaming the Communist Party the “Chinese Meritocratic Union.”

Such characterizations were exaggerated. The reformist era witnessed its fair share of fiascoes, including the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square and the long-term disaster of the one-child policy. But the new governing model was, in other important ways, tremendously successful. China became the workshop of the world not merely because of its cheap labor but also because international investors could be assured of something far rarer and more valuable: predictability.

Xi has undermined this governance system by capturing control over policy and sidelining what little opposition existed within the party. He “has worked hard and been successful to shape decision-making processes around his person,” Nis Grünberg, the lead analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, recently noted. “Following party policy now essentially means for all party officials to follow Xi’s lead.” Loyalty to Xi has also become a primary factor in getting top-notch jobs in government agencies and other posts. “Looking at the cohort of cadres promoted,” Grunberg continued, “it becomes evident that those with personal or professional ties to Xi, and/or have shown loyalty and positive engagement with his politics, are overrepresented.”

That has completely changed how decisions are made at the upper echelons of China’s government. “As the power has begun to reconcentrate at the top and increasingly in an individual person … there is less space to debate issues,” Minzner explained. “Governance practices which people are used to being followed, the relatively more predictable technocratic path, now are starting to veer somewhat more erratically.”

The big test for China’s system of collective governance may be looming. Xi is widely expected to sweep aside the regular rotation of top leaders at a Communist Party congress later this year and remain in power for a third term, something none of his reform-era predecessors has done, and could potentially hold on to the post of president for life. Backed by a relentlessly promoted personality cult, Xi is becoming the most powerful figure in modern China since Mao himself.

These longer-term and systemic shifts have, in large part, driven Beijing’s inconsistent and confusing policies—including zero COVID. The policy, aimed at keeping COVID infections at or near zero, has saved lives, so a commitment to it is understandable. But there is clearly frustration within the highest levels of government and business over the policy’s current course. Premier Li Keqiang, officially No. 2 in the leadership hierarchy but largely marginalized by Xi, has suddenly found his voice and repeatedly warned of the damage being done to economic growth and jobs, the latter being of special sensitivity to a Communist Party terrified of social disorder. Yet Xi has consistently reaffirmed the correctness of zero COVID, and as far as he’s concerned, the case is closed. A recent meeting of China’s most senior leaders even came out against any criticism of the policy. James Liang, an influential business leader and a co-founder of the Chinese online travel agency Trip.com, was banned by a local social-media platform after he publicly questioned the zero-COVID approach.

Practical alternatives to zero-COVID, meanwhile, remain untapped. China watchers are collectively baffled by Beijing’s reluctance to vaccinate its vulnerable elderly—more than 90 million people over the age of 60 are not sufficiently jabbed—though they have upped their efforts recently. Instead, the country remains enveloped in tough restrictions. In mid-May, the government limited its citizens’ overseas travel. Purchasing ibuprofen in a Beijing pharmacy rings the alarm with local health authorities, who then require the buyer to get a COVID test. Beijing and Shanghai appear to be implementing a regime of constant monitoring: An up-to-date COVID test is necessary to go about much of your daily life—enter office buildings, dine in restaurants, or ride the subways—forcing residents to spend time and effort getting perpetually swabbed.

The head-scratchers aren’t limited to COVID rules. Even economic policy—long what the party was most respected for—has become unusually erratic. In late 2020, the government launched a sudden and haphazard crackdown on Big Tech. Regulators yanked the stock listing of the fintech powerhouse Ant Group only two days before its launch, then forced another prominent firm, the ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing, to announce its delisting from the New York Stock Exchange five months after its debut. Even the normally mild-mannered International Monetary Fund had harsh words for Beijing in its recent assessment of the Chinese economy, noting “the multitude, timing, seemingly uncoordinated, and discretionary nature of these interventions,” adding that it “has led to heightened policy uncertainty.” Now, with the economy faltering under zero-COVID lockdowns, policy makers are beating an equally hasty retreat: In mid-May, senior officials schmoozed tech executives at a conference with promises of support, including for international stock listings.

Much like Mao, Xi’s mere comments can send officials scrambling. Last August, he gave a talk about “common prosperity,” or narrowing income disparities, and the term instantaneously became all the rage, plastered across newspapers while executives rushed to open corporate wallets for poor farmers and other charitable causes. But the slogan has yet to evolve into a thought-out policy framework, creating yet more uncertainty. Bert Hofman, the director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, told me in an email that “common prosperity” remained an “aspirational goal,” whereas “concrete measures are mostly still to be developed.”

In this way, Xi’s approach has taken on aspects of old, Maoist mass campaigns. Mao conceived the disastrous Great Leap Forward based on his conviction that China could catapult into the ranks of the advanced economies by sheer public effort alone. Workers and farmers just had to labor harder and longer, and keep the Communist faith. So, too, does Xi seem to believe that COVID can be overcome by national willpower. Having declared the battle with the virus a “people’s war,” Xi and his administration have characterized pandemic measures as an almost militaristic movement against an “invisible enemy,” which has required “tremendous sacrifice” and “solidarity and resilience” to achieve “victory.”

China may regress only so far. Xi is not Mao, nor is his agenda the same. But Xi does risk unraveling the gains made in the previous pragmatic decades. Zero COVID, for instance, is souring international companies on China. A recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China found that more than half of the respondents have delayed or reduced investments in the country. The problem, says Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, is the uncertainty the policy has created. “The predictability of the Chinese market was always one of its strengths,” he said in a recent briefing, “and that has gone out the window.”

The same could be true of China’s foreign affairs. “Xi has established a new model of the foreign-policy decision-making process that is focused on his sole authority,” Yun Sun, a senior fellow at the Stimson Center, recently explained. “Xi, his strategic personality, and his foreign-policy vision are the fundamental origin of China’s foreign-policy behavior today,” and thus “the assertiveness and coerciveness manifested are the direct result of Xi’s political beliefs and the system he has designed to enforce his vision.” That means security analysts will now have to factor Xi’s personal ambitions and political calculations into their projections of Chinese global policy. For instance, claiming Taiwan has long been a top priority for Beijing. Now a case can be made that having one man holding the levers of Chinese power, not properly constrained by an administration packed with cronies, makes war over the island more likely—akin to Vladimir Putin’s grab for Ukraine.

This is where Xi really differs from Mao—in the China he commands, and in the wider impact he has. Mao’s disasters fell mainly on the Chinese people. That’s bad enough, but in a world where China is a rising power, with greatly enhanced economic and military might, how Xi governs will affect all of us. That means the whims of one man have the potential to lift or sink the global economy, or throw the world into conflict and turmoil.

Yet from an American perspective, Xi’s concentration of power isn’t all downside. By marginalizing the technocrats and constraining policy debates, Xi may be undercutting China’s competitive edge in its contest with Washington. His insistence on zero COVID, erratic attitude toward the private sector, and hostile foreign policy are combining to sap the economy’s vitality, depress investor sentiment, alienate more countries, and isolate the Chinese from the world. None of that bodes well for China’s future as a great-power competitor.

In a sense, Xi is proving why advocates of democracy believe authoritarian regimes ultimately fail. Communist China was a basket case under one-man rule. It could be again.


Source : The Atlantic