Temperatures have dropped another degree in the New Cold War between China and the United States amid rising tensions in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
During a diplomatic visit by US Health Secretary Alex Azar, the Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned of the dangers posed by Beijing to the island’s democracy.
“Our life has become increasingly difficult as China continues to pressure Taiwan into accepting its political conditions, conditions that will turn Taiwan into the next Hong Kong,” he said at a joint media briefing with Azar in Taipei on Tuesday.
“We know this is not just about Taiwan’s status, but about sustaining democracy in the face of authoritarian aggression. Taiwan must win these battles so democracy prevails,” Wu said.
China’s governing Communist Party regards the island as a renegade province and has pledged to push ahead with “reunification,” by force if necessary. It has also proposed a Hong Kong-style “One Country, Two Systems” model that was agreed by Beijing and London before the handover in 1997, ending 156 years of British rule.
But that has become political poison after a hardline security law was imposed on the city earlier this year, strangling basic rights and freedoms.
On Monday, China continued its crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners after targeting media mogul Jimmy Lai, the influential owner of the Apple Daily newspaper. He was arrested by Hong Kong police for allegedly “colluding with foreign forces” under the new draconian legislation.
The decision has angered a vast section of the community with city residents rushing to buy Apple Daily in support of Lai. “Even if Apple Daily only publishes a bundle of blank sheets, we will be buying all of them,” one reader said.
Behind the scenes, the diplomatic row between Washington and Beijing continues to rage about the national security law eroding autonomy in the Special Administrative Region.
Products made in Hong Kong for export to the US will now need to be labeled as “Made in China” next month. “[They| must be marked to indicate that their origin is ‘China’,” a statement from the US Customs and Border Protection said earlier this week.
In response, President Xi Jinping’s government has imposed sanctions on a group of US politicians and stoked nationalism at home.
“Chinese people are shocked. They feel very disappointed about what is happening in [the US] towards China. There is rising anger among the Chinese public,” Cui Tiankai, the Chinese Ambassador in Washington, said as reported by Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese administration.