US Vice President Mike Pence said in a threatening tone on Monday that for the US to make a trade deal with China, Beijing needs to honour its commitments, including China's commitment to respect the legal integrity of Hong Kong in keeping with the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. He also said it would be much harder for the US to reach a trade deal if there was violence in Hong Kong. Pence's use of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in this way is deceptive.
Senior US officials have recently linked the Sino-US economic and trade negotiations with the affairs of Hong Kong. Pence's remarks on Monday were the most stark and outrageous.
Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. The US has no basis to interfere in Hong Kong affairs under international law, nor does it have the ability to influence how China solve Hong Kong problem independently.
The US had been putting pressure on China all the time. It imposed a complete blockade in the early days of the People's Republic of China, and the US also had serious confrontation with China after 1978.
In the near term, its trade war with China has been going from tens of billions of dollars to hundreds of billions of dollars. Moreover, it has used all the economic levers to pressure a group of Chinese high-tech companies such as Huawei.
What is the result? After 70 years of ups and downs, China has grown into the world's second largest economy. As the trade war drags on, the Chinese economy has become more resilient and technological innovation has been greatly spurred. The trade war between the US and China has provided an impetus to the overall upgrade of China's strength.
We believe that the US has learned that imposing maximum pressure on China will not work. But the American system is preventing the US decision-making team from correcting their wrong radical policies in time.
The real interests of the American people have long been divided, dispersed and fragmented by the US political system. They have to buy more expensive goods because of the tariff war with China. Some of their jobs are threatened. But they were deceived by the American government and elites who supported the radical line.
As the new presidential election approaches, partisan interests will more and more overwhelm the US national interests.
Pence's remarks meant that the US was jumping to the fore over Hong Kong when economic pressure did not work. Adding fuel to the fire, the US also confirmed it would sell 66 F-16V fighter jets to the island of Taiwan. Washington is taking more actions on the issue of human rights. It is foreseeable that the US side will put all of its cards on the table.
However, the US is making strategic mistakes. The US wants to revive its domestic economy, but choosing a conflict in such an important direction is bound to lead to a serious distraction of resources and attention. China will stand firm, not fail, and history will conclude: America has chosen the wrong adversary at the wrong time.
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