All of which makes the Hong Kong crisis so consequential. Beijing almost certainly chose this moment to strike because it calculated that a world straining under the weight of a pandemic and a depression lacked the will and attention to react. On Friday, Trump said he would strip Hong Kong of its privileged commercial and legal ties to the U.S. But that punishes the people of Hong Kong at least as much as it does their rulers in Beijing.
What’s a better course for the U.S.? A few ideas:
Sanction Chinese officials engaged in human-rights abuses in Hong Kong under the Global Magnitsky Act. Upgrade relations with Taiwan and increase arms sales, including top-shelf weapons’ systems such as the F-35 and the Navy’s future frigate. Re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement as a counter to China’s economic influence. (This won’t happen in a Trump administration, but should in a Biden one.) Publicly press all G-7 countries to stop doing business with telecom-giant Huawei as a meaningful response to the Hong Kong law.
One other idea is now being explored by Britain, the former colonial power. Give every Hong Kong person an opportunity to easily obtain a U.K. residency card, even a passport.