By: Shoshana Bryen featuring foreign policy fellow Claudia Rosett
Americans blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether the virus was manufactured in a lab, was part of a bio-weapons program, derived from the “wet markets,” or something else, it is clear that Chinese government activity and deliberate obfuscation, arrests of scientists and deletion of crucial information has cost the world millions of lives impacted and countless economies damaged.
In other words, despite the financial aggravation to be imposed on China, as well as an escape route, Taiwan and the West were prepared to fold their tents on Hong Kong.
Hong Kongers have been out in the streets for months, demonstrating for their rights and freedoms. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of thousands, and sometimes more than one million, of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents repeatedly protested the erasure of their “one country, two systems” arrangement. Despite the ban on Tiananmen Square memorial demonstrations, tens of thousands of Hong Kongers were out. “They will not go gently into the night” of President Xi Jinping’s brutal dictatorship, journalist Claudia Rosett told hundreds of participants on a Jewish Policy Center conference call in mid-June.
And, she added, “Hong Kong might thereby inspire mainland Chinese.”
One would certainly hope so.
But how to make China pay? There is simply no expectation—nor should there be—that the U.S. will go to war with China over Hong Kong. Or Taiwan. But that doesn’t mean we have no leverage.
During the Cold War, the U.S. and its allies choked the uncompetitive Soviet Union. We can do it again—and should. What’s more, we can also provide hope to those who believe that the West has abandoned them.
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