ASIA MEDIA WRITES – The following succinct commentary was solicited by the editors of USA Today and provided by our founder and president, Prof Tom Plate. It was published in this well-known national newspaper on Thursday 15-16 August. Please see:
TEXT By Tom Plate
The notion that the U.S. should lead a global coalition, as if filing an amicus brief to the court of world opinion, in the matter of the People of Hong Kong v. the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, is a charming one. But the play would be ineffective or, worse yet, counter-productive; Beijing would harden its stance and use the Western gesture to solidify its claim of ‘foreign interference’. This would inflame anti-West mainland nationalists all the more.
The effort would also be technically unsupportable under international law, by the same standard that the fraught issue of how to handle illegal or legal immigrants on the U.S. southern border is a sovereign matter for Washington, not for some ersatz China-led ‘global coalition’. What’s more, American’s failure to deal with issues of gun violence as well as the immigrant influx has not raised its credibility globally. President Donald Trump, whatever his reasons, is right to react cautiously and not, in this case, wildly flap the wings of the American eagle in Beijing’s face. His evident preference to try to figure a way out his idiotic US-China trade war is better for America than trying to figure a way to intervene in the Hong Kong troubles and cause further trouble.
Beijing is well aware that people everywhere are watching it warily, which is one reason behind its relative restraint, so far. The existence of Hong Kong (roughly the same population as Washington DC) as a semi-independent metropolis of China is a huge asset for the world. The best way forward for the U.S. and anyone else sincerely concerned is to maintain a low profile, and Chairman Xi Jinping to continue to proceed cautiously — feeling his way across the tricky stream (as the Chinese saying does) one stone at a time … and not slip in front of the world.
Clinical Professor Tom Plate is the distinguished scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and author of ‘Yo-Yo Diplomacy’ a book on the up-and-down China-U.S. relationship.