Whilst coronavirus and the “lockdown” both dominate headlines across the country at the moment, there is a frightening clamp down on freedoms in Hong Kong.
Under the guise of improved ‘security’, China’s communist leadership moves to push through laws that will erode the freedoms Hong Kong was guaranteed since the Chinese took control from the British. The system of ‘one country, two systems’ was supposed to last until 2047.
Amid an economic downturn, it is suggested that China’s leadership feels threatened and is tightening restrictions to prevent upheaval in Hong Kong. Much of the legitimacy the communist leaders get derives from material wealth; if there are economic problems, the government is threatened.
Is this what the world has to look forward too? China’s great rise will inevitably lead to its influence increasing. It already feels powerful enough to slap tariffs on Australian exports in response to its suggestion to launch an inquiry in China about coronavirus. Thankfully, Australians seem to be willing to stand up.
Britain, with its decline in power over the past century, can do little against Chinese actions. Much the same can be said of Australia, in that individually it can do little. Perhaps this is the time the West can stand as more of a united front against China.
China still relies on exports to the West. Many western countries face their own economic troubles, and so there will likely be fewer consumers for China to sell their goods too. At the same time, there are growing calls to bring manufacturing back to western countries, particularly in light of the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and reliance on foreign countries for medicines.
The reversal of globalisation will likely mean China loses out economically and, therefore, politically. Though, unless this happens, China will be unrestrained. It is likely others will fall to China’s grasp; it already claims much of the South China Sea, resulting in heightened tensions in the area. Hong Kong may be a taste of what is to come.
Photo by Tomas Roggero on Flickr.