"Conclusion: Security, Economy, Politics: The Chinese Agenda"
Yash Ghai and Jill Cottrell Ghai
in Cora Chan & Fiona de Londras (eds), China's National Security: Endangering Hong Kong's Rule of Law? (Hart Publishing, March 2020),
Chapter 17, pp 307-332
Introduction: The story of Article 23 of the Basic Law governing, in part, the relationship between China and Hong Kong, is largely a reflection of the changes in China's perception of its standing at home and abroad. At first China accepted the Basic Law as governing its relationship with Hong Kong and largely adhered to the commitment to ensure Hong Kong's autonomy for 50 years. The Chinese authorities had been greatly disturbed by the impact of the student rebellion in Tiananmen Square, and put it down with great violence including considerable loss of life. Seeing Hong Kong people's strong condemnation of the crackdown, China worried that Hong Kong might become a base for subversion, and hence strengthened the wording of Article 23 of the Basic Law with an aim to desist foreign interventions. The situation is now somewhat different. China, on the whole, welcomes intimate relations with leaders of foreign states and enjoys greater international standing than it did in the 1990s. It also seems less inclined to treat itself as bound by the Joint Declaration and the guarantee of Hong Kong autonomy, and as other chapters in this collection have shown, seems quite wiling to intervene in Hong Kong affairs, including through interpretations of the Basic Law.
In this concluding contribution to the collection, we discuss the impact of China's economic and global policies on the development of close relationships with foreign states, in spite of the scepticism of citizens in those states as well as in Hong Kong. In particular, we will argue that China's global economic and investment approach - and especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - is strengthening its relative international position and as a result, that the people of Hong Kong may find themselves less able to call on international solidarity to ensure that China respects and gives effect to Hong Kong's autonomy, with potential negative implications for the Rule of Law. The discussion in this chapter reveals that China is coherent in its domestic and global policies through which it aims to extend control in political, security and economic terms (echoing the Chines regime's priority on advancing 'sovereignty, security, and development interests'). China's treatment of Hong Kong therefore makes for interesting comparisons with, and shed lights on, China's activities in the international political, security and economic order...