Asean and India unlikely to pressure Beijing over Hong Kong national security law: experts

Asean and India unlikely to pressure Beijing over Hong Kong national security law: experts

Most Southeast Asian governments see Beijing’s position on Hong Kong as part of its internal affairs, the analysts say. While India has stayed silent, escalating tensions over its border disputes with China may push it to make a statement

While the United States has tapped its allies to voice their disapproval against China’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, most Asean governments and India are unlikely to take similar positions even if they have concerns about the city’s autonomy.

The five analysts and foreign policy experts This Week in Asia spoke to said most governments saw Beijing’s position on Hong Kong as part of its internal affairs.

Joseph Liow Chin Yong, an expert on Asia-Pacific geopolitics at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said: “Asean is not likely to follow Washington’s template for responding to developments in Hong Kong.”

Dylan Loh, an assistant professor of public policy and global affairs at NTU said none of the countries in the 10-member Asean bloc had the “economic and political wherewithal nor the desire to irritate China over the Hong Kong issue”.

Even if there were any genuine concerns, Loh said individual countries were likely to err on the side of caution and show support in the form of “generic statements of concern about the stability and safety of Hong Kong society”.

Topmost on the minds of Asean countries would be how to navigate increasingly fraught US-China tensions, Loh added.

“They will be more concerned about Washington’s actions and the subsequent reactions from Beijing, rather than the national security law for Hong Kong,” he said.

US President Donald Trump said he would on Friday announce new US policies on China, amid worsening relations between the two world’s largest economies that were already roiled by disputes over trade and technology.

“We are not happy with China. We are not happy with what’s happened,” Trump said, his comments coming after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Hong Kong had lost its autonomy, throwing Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US into doubt.

The plan for a new security law, endorsed on Thursday by China’s legislature, would prohibit acts of conspiring with foreign parties and allow mainland agencies to operate in Hong Kong as needed. Critics say it represents a further encroachment on Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law by Beijing and will erode the “one country, two systems” model of governance.

Liow of NTU said Asean states did hope Hong Kong would continue to be a financial centre and gateway to China, given that this had contributed to regional economic development. “I do think China is also very aware of this.”

But Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official responsible for managing bilateral relations with China, Taiwan and Mongolia, said what was happening with Hong Kong did not “directly infringe or impact Asean member states”.

Neither was there a “popular outcry” from Asean populations that the governments would need to manage, he said.

This is unlike South Korea, where analysts have pointed to people having sympathy for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, for it harks back to the country’s own experience in the 1980s, where young people led the charge for direct elections and constitutional reform.

Officially though, the South Korean government has been measured in its response, saying it was watching the situation closely, whereas Japan issued a statement saying it was “seriously concerned” about the Chinese parliament’s decision, and summoned China’s ambassador in Tokyo to convey its views on the matter.

Indian foreign policy expert Sinderpal Singh said India, like the Asean countries, did not face a “policy quandary” over the Hong Kong situation, compared to countries like Australia which “have some push from the populace and politicians who think it’s something to speak up about”.

Still, New Delhi’s reaction was worth watching, said Singh, a senior fellow at NTU’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

India never interferes in the domestic politics of other countries, he said, but some academics and think tanks in the country had suggested leveraging on current US-China tensions to solve its seven-decade old border dispute with China.

Tensions between the two Asian giants have spiked in recent weeks with a series of skirmishes and military build-up by both sides at the Line of Actual Control that separates the two countries.

Both sides have maintained they are in dialogue to resolve the stand-off peacefully, with New Delhi on Thursday rejecting Trump’s offer to mediate what the US president described as a “big conflict”.
Singh said India would likely not comment on the Hong Kong situation unless the border issue took a turn for the worse.

“If America imposes sanctions on China, do Indians then follow America or not? I think they won’t go along with sanctions because of the need to respect non-interferences,” he said. “Also, India doesn’t want to make it seem like India follows everything America does.”

India has had to deal with its share of international criticism in the past few months when it revoked the special status of the states of Jammu and Kashmir that were conferred with autonomy under Article 370 of its Constitution, he added.

“There’s an understanding in the last few years that China will not publicly say anything strongly objectionable about the Kashmir situation, and India reciprocates by not commenting on Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang,” Singh said.

Riot police detain a group of people in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFERiot police detain a group of people in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE
Riot police detain a group of people in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. Photo: EPA-EFE
While the United States has tapped its allies to voice their disapproval against China’s move to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, most Asean governments and India are unlikely to take similar positions even if they have concerns about the city’s autonomy.
The five analysts and foreign policy experts This Week in Asia spoke to said most governments saw Beijing’s position on Hong Kong as part of its internal affairs.
US response over Hong Kong stands out as other nations sidestep hard line
29 May 2020

Joseph Liow Chin Yong, an expert on Asia-Pacific geopolitics at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said: “Asean is not likely to follow Washington’s template for responding to developments in Hong Kong.”

Dylan Loh, an assistant professor of public policy and global affairs at NTU said none of the countries in the 10-member Asean bloc had the “economic and political wherewithal nor the desire to irritate China over the Hong Kong issue”.
Even if there were any genuine concerns, Loh said individual countries were likely to err on the side of caution and show support in the form of “generic statements of concern about the stability and safety of Hong Kong society”.
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE
Get updates direct to your inbox
Email
SUBSCRIBE
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy
Topmost on the minds of Asean countries would be how to navigate increasingly fraught US-China tensions, Loh added.
“They will be more concerned about Washington’s actions and the subsequent reactions from Beijing, rather than the national security law for Hong Kong,” he said.
I think India won’t go along with US sanctions because of the need to respect non-interferences
Sinderpal Singh, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies
US President Donald Trump said he would on Friday announce new US policies on China, amid worsening relations between the two world’s largest economies that were already roiled by disputes over trade and technology.
“We are not happy with China. We are not happy with what’s happened,” Trump said, his comments coming after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said Hong Kong had lost its autonomy, throwing Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US into doubt.
The plan for a new security law, endorsed on Thursday by China’s legislature, would prohibit acts of conspiring with foreign parties and allow mainland agencies to operate in Hong Kong as needed. Critics say it represents a further encroachment on Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law by Beijing and will erode the “one country, two systems” model of governance.

Liow of NTU said Asean states did hope Hong Kong would continue to be a financial centre and gateway to China, given that this had contributed to regional economic development. “I do think China is also very aware of this.”
But Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official responsible for managing bilateral relations with China, Taiwan and Mongolia, said what was happening with Hong Kong did not “directly infringe or impact Asean member states”.
Neither was there a “popular outcry” from Asean populations that the governments would need to manage, he said.
National security law heightens Seoul’s painful choice: US or China?
28 May 2020

This is unlike South Korea, where analysts have pointed to people having sympathy for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, for it harks back to the country’s own experience in the 1980s, where young people led the charge for direct elections and constitutional reform.
Officially though, the South Korean government has been measured in its response, saying it was watching the situation closely, whereas Japan issued a statement saying it was “seriously concerned” about the Chinese parliament’s decision, and summoned China’s ambassador in Tokyo to convey its views on the matter.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. Japan has expressed concern over Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong. Photo: Kyodo
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. Japan has expressed concern over Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong. Photo: Kyodo
Indian foreign policy expert Sinderpal Singh said India, like the Asean countries, did not face a “policy quandary” over the Hong Kong situation, compared to countries like Australia which “have some push from the populace and politicians who think it’s something to speak up about”.
Still, New Delhi’s reaction was worth watching, said Singh, a senior fellow at NTU’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
India never interferes in the domestic politics of other countries, he said, but some academics and think tanks in the country had suggested leveraging on current US-China tensions to solve its seven-decade old border dispute with China.
Tensions between the two Asian giants have spiked in recent weeks with a series of skirmishes and military build-up by both sides at the Line of Actual Control that separates the two countries.
China and India move more troops to disputed border in Ladakh region
28 May 2020

Both sides have maintained they are in dialogue to resolve the stand-off peacefully, with New Delhi on Thursday rejecting Trump’s offer to mediate what the US president described as a “big conflict”.
Singh said India would likely not comment on the Hong Kong situation unless the border issue took a turn for the worse.
“If America imposes sanctions on China, do Indians then follow America or not? I think they won’t go along with sanctions because of the need to respect non-interferences,” he said. “Also, India doesn’t want to make it seem like India follows everything America does.”
India has had to deal with its share of international criticism in the past few months when it revoked the special status of the states of Jammu and Kashmir that were conferred with autonomy under Article 370 of its Constitution, he added.
“There’s an understanding in the last few years that China will not publicly say anything strongly objectionable about the Kashmir situation, and India reciprocates by not commenting on Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang,” Singh said.

All about the Kashmir conflict
Amid fears that capital will take flight from Hong Kong, one of the world’s biggest financial hubs, Asian countries would also be thinking about whether they could stand to gain, analysts said, although they noted there were no reports of investors or expatriates fleeing the city.

Thompson said if there was indeed an outflow of wealth, Singapore, Shanghai and even Taipei could benefit.

“What we are going to see is an exodus of foreign direct investors, and an exodus of wealthy Hongkongers who are going to look for a new domicile,” he said.

Outspoken former Singaporean diplomat Bilahari Kausikan said however that the international reaction to Beijing’s move was “irrelevant”.

Stressing that these were his personal views, Bilahari said: “There will be noise and wringing of hands, and maybe a few countries may go further and impose some sanctions. But that will be much more symbolic – to make the US or Europe feel good about themselves rather than do any good to Hong Kong. Nothing any foreign country can do will change Beijing’s mind in any way.”

Bilahari, who was formerly the most senior civil servant in Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Ministry until he retired in 2013, said Beijing’s move was “well-nigh inevitable” and was done after the Hong Kong government was unable to quell last year’s protests. Anti-government protesters had also “ignored the limits”, he added.

He noted that Hong Kong “has never been sovereign” under the one country, two systems rule, and that “what was always implicit has now been made explicit”.

Given how the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on China’s economy, Bilahari said Beijing’s main priority would be social stability, and Hong Kong should not be a source of distraction.

Bilahari said Hong Kong’s economic importance to the mainland was dwindling and it was now “at best just another second- or third-tier Chinese city”.

“It’s very sad, but there is nothing to be done, too late to do anything or for regrets. More demonstrations will only make Beijing’s attitude even harder,” said Bilahari.

“Hong Kong should make the best of the situation by behaving in such a way that the new laws need not be used,” he said. “Then, and only then, Hong Kong can preserve something of its status as a financial centre.”

www.prensa.cancilleria.gob.ar es un sitio web oficial del Gobierno Argentino