Diane Francis: As its 70th birthday nears, China isn’t in a celebrating mood

Diane Francis: As its 70th birthday nears, China isn’t in a celebrating mood

October 1 marks the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, traditionally celebrated with fireworks and a show of military force in Beijing.

But the Middle Kingdom is hardly in a celebratory mood. The country is under siege from many sides: its biggest trading partner, the United States, has imposed massive tariffs in retaliation against China’s aggressive currency, trade, and technological misdeeds; and the country has been embarrassed for weeks as more than two million Chinese, living in Hong Kong, have taken to the streets to push back against Beijing’s attempt to abrogate the rule of law commitment made to Britain in 1997.

China’s 70th anniversary marks the pinnacle of overreach

If anything, China’s 70th anniversary marks the pinnacle of overreach. This is hardly surprising given that its current leader, Xi Jinping, declared himself “President for life” and controls the rich and powerful country. In another version of the Biblical “pride comes before a fall,” he has rolled out aggressive strategies at home and abroad which have resulted in the country’s current embattlement.

China’s 2025 Plan to unseat America’s domination of technology has backfired as its ruthless champion, Huawei, has not competed fairly or ethically. The company has driven foreign rivals off the road and is becoming a global pariah. The Wall Street Journal exposed scandals and said that industrial espionage seems to be what many Chinese firms consider “research and development.”

Likewise, China’s heralded multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative was billed as a Chinese Marshall Plan to build out infrastructure in the world’s poorer nations, but is now seen as latter-day mercantilism designed to buy government influence and degrade the environment.

China has become a major trade bully, notably after beating up Canada — the world’s boy scout nation — by illegally cancelling trade contracts and unjustly jailing two innocent citizens on trumped-up charges of treason. Beijing went berserk after Canada detained a Huawei executive at the request of the United States, as per an extradition treaty between the two countries.

The biggest black eye has become the millions standing their ground in Hong Kong against police brutality in front of the world

China, once the darling of the Davos crowd, is now a delinquent that is hurting the global economy with its aggressions and with its trampling of human rights at will.

But the biggest black eye has become the millions standing their ground in Hong Kong against police brutality in front of the world. What began as a peaceful protest against China’s incursion into its justice system, through extradition, has turned into a mass protest of all ages who want a more democratic government, social reforms, and an independent inquiry into police violence.

Many Canadians are engaged in this fight. Before the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, most of the colony’s prosperous and middle class residents immigrated to the rest of the Commonwealth, in particular Canada. Others remained but kept a foreign passport in their pockets just in case the communists broke their promise of “one country, two systems” or democracy and the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Turns out their concerns were well-placed. Today, some 500,000 people with roots in Hong Kong live in Canada; 300,000 in Hong Kong have Canadian passports; and a similar number live in Australia.

Hong Kong’s protests are the canary in the coal mine of Xi’s presidency. Another Tiananmen Square massacre would wreak economic and geopolitical havoc, just as would the nuclear trade war tactic of letting the Yuan collapse even more against the U.S. dollar.

None of this will be finished by the October 1 anniversary. Back in 2009, Beijing celebrated on Tiananmen Square with a parade of 10,000 troops and high tech weaponry.

In 2019, let’s hope the troops march in Beijing and not anywhere else.

 

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