USA And China Continue Flexing Their Muscle In The International Arena

President of USA Trump and President of China Jinping

USA and China recently displayed international aggression as well as animosity at mutual level. The developments come in the light of new laws and treaties, all amidst the time of heavy loss due to the lockdown imposed to curb Coronavirus’s spread.

Crux of the Matter

China And Hostilities In HK
China recently proposed the ‘New Security’ Law for Hong-Kong (HK), which is tied to China in ‘1 country, 2 systems’ manner. The law enables strict action against “treason, secession, sedition & subversion” directed towards Chinese Govt in HK, and would enable the Chinese Govt to eliminate any type of protest swiftly. The law was first introduced in 2003, but it was never drafted properly after mass protests from HK civilians fearing for their loss of freedom of speech.

Hong Kong’s History

  • 1997: Britain gives up its colony Hong Kong to China and integration occurs by ‘1 Country, 2 Systems‘ provision. China grants significant liberty in business and freedom of speech otherwise not provided in China.
  • 2003: More than 500,000 citizens protest against the introduction of ‘Security Law’, which is being reintroduced in 2020.
  • 2010s: Demand for Independent Hong Kong increases.
  • 2019: Mass-protests in HK to oppose Extradition law, which would allow China to have particular criminals from HK on trial in Chinese Courts.

1 Country, 2 Systems
China is engaged with Macau and Hong Kong in ‘1 Country, 2 Systems’ provision, and has tried to bind Taiwan with the same. Recent times have seen an increase of demand for Independence from China, particularly in the latter 2. Re-election of Tsai-Ing-wen as Taiwanese President saw open rejection of the policy amidst calls for inclusion of Taiwan in UN and WHO.

In 2005, China passed the ‘Anti-Secession’ law which enables it to take “non-peaceful” measures against Taiwan if it declares independence from China. Analysts are apprehending the same fate for HK which might turn into reality if unchecked.

USA Out Of The ‘Open Skies’
Trump recently announced the decision to withdraw from the ‘Open Skies Treaty’. The treaty allows member nations to fly unarmed aircraft over other member nations to observe their military forces’ development. The treaty came into effect from January 2002, and had 34 members including the USA, Russia, Germany, Belgium, etc. Trump pointed to Russia’s violation of the pact as a reason to withdraw. However, he has kept options open for reconciliation in the future.

Trump’s Major Withdrawals

  • May 2018: Pulls out of the ‘Iran Nuclear Agreement’ which restricted Iran’s nuclear development.
  • August 2019: Withdraws from the ‘Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty’ with Russia in which the 2 countries agreed to dismantle their stock of intermediate range land missiles.
  • May 2020: Withdrawal from ‘Open Skies Treaty’, making it the 3rd major pull-out by Trump during his tenure.

USA and China at Loggerheads
USA and China are the world’s largest and second-largest economies respectively. However, they saw a loss of 4.8% and 6.8% in GDP respectively due to Coronavirus. The USA is one of the worst-hit countries due to Coronavirus, while China is facing the wrath of nations for opaqueness in sharing information on Covid-19. USA openly accuses China of hiding information regarding the virus, which China has denied.

The tensions increased with Tsai-Ing-wen’s victory as Taiwan’s President. In reaction to China flying fighter planes in the Taiwanese border, US sailed armed ships in the China-Taiwan strait. The USA also backed Hong Kong in the latest development, warning China of “strong reaction” if the security law is passed.

  • Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code lays down the punishment for sedition. The Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860, under the British Raj. Throughout the Raj, this section was used to suppress activists in favor of national independence, including Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, both of whom were found guilty and imprisoned.
  • For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers, and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG flush with cash, became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades and sold its equipment to more than 120 countries. On 11 February 2020, The Washington Post, ZDF (German Broadcaster) and SRF (Swiss Broadcaster) revealed that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence.
  • Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease in 1898. The whole territory was returned to China in 1997, although Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under a principle of “one country, two systems”.