by Phar Kim Beng
As President Donald Trump of the United States (US) goes into the last 49 days of his presidency, a tenure marked originally by strong economic growth between 2016 to February 2020, only to see the mismanagement of the arrival of the SARS Cov II pandemic, the fiery exchanges between Washington DC and Beijing, have escalated.
Despite an attempt by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Chinese State Councillor Yang Jie-Chi in Honolulu, Hawaii a few weeks ago, neither side has been able to douse the fire.
President Trump, enraged by the fact that his own niece Mary Trump has exposed him as a “dangerous leader,” has gone on the stump to explain to the world the threat of China to the democratic world, especially the Indo-Pacific arena.
To a large extent, President Xi Jin Ping of China has for now, enjoyed the upper hand of containing the pandemic of SARS Cov II that triggers the disease of Covid-19. The cases in China have plateaued at less than 95,000 cases, with mortality of some 8800 people.
The US seems to be back-pedaling. Donald Trump needs to show to the grass root members of the Republican Party, that he can lead the party to defeat Democratic Party’s presidential nominee Joseph Biden on November 3rd, 2020.
But China has to be careful. China has USD 3 trillion left in its Central Bank. Indeed, it’s Central Bank used to have USD 4 trillion just five years ago. Over the last five years, in other words, China has spent USD 1 trillion on a variety of projects, both internally and on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Although China has managed to “pull” 800 million of its people out of poverty between 1979-2019, an impressive record by any measure according to the World Bank over a span of 40 years, China has another 600 million people who remain very poor, living on less than USD 2 dollars a day.
Indeed, by introducing the National Security Law on Hong Kong at 11 PM on June 30th, 2020, just one hour shy away from the 23rd anniversary of the hand over of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China, Beijing has signaled a warning to the US and the European Union, if not the rest of the world, that it will not tolerate any dissent.
This national security cum legal attitude is aimed directly not only at the protestors and demonstrators in Hong Kong, who insists on “One Country Two Systems” but potentially Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and Tibetans in Tibet.
Meanwhile, the US Senate has passed a law that will sanction any companies in China or the world that have been using Uygur Muslims as forced labor in the factories of China. South China Morning Post, on July 22, reported that some 28 companies in China have been blacklisted, including textile giants such as Esquel.com, that used to have a factory each in Penang and Kelantan respectively.
In the same week, like the above, reports have been swirling in Reuters and Associated Press, two reputable news wire agencies, that the US was also on the verge of banning all 92 to 96 million members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the second-largest political party in the world after BJP of India.
Indeed, if President Trump carries through on this action especially when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has affirmed in numerous field reports since 2017, that all fifty states of the US have been “penetrated” by the intelligence operatives or spies of China, not excluding cyber attacks on private and public servers of the US, then President Trump have to ban other members connected to the Chinese Communist Party too.
Since the Chinese Communist Party does not have an open-source of party membership, then the number of family members and relatives now living in the US would have to be expelled too. The US, for example, has shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston on July 21st, 2020, on the accusation of spying. Verifiable or not, the accusation is based on the FBI report though.
The claim is not to be taken lightly as the consulate is known to be responsible for the representation of the Chinese interest in the southern parts of the US, such as Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, and Kentucky. These are all key states that President Trump has to win in the election on November 3rd too.
As things stand, Biden has also ratcheted up his anti-China rhetoric to ensure that he is not outmaneuvered by the Republican Party. The Sino-US relationship will get worse before it can get better. They have enormous implications on Southeast Asia that are located in the Indo Pacific arena.
Malaysia, for example, is one of the claimant states on parts of the South China Sea, which China seems to want to own all 90 percent of it. Malaysia cannot stand askance at the plight of the Uyghur Muslims, especially their men, women, and children that have been forced to renounce Islam and their ethnic identity based on Islam and pan Turkic traditions in Central Asia.