Sunday, July 14, 2024

China’s Expansion Policies and its Global Impact

Washington, DC – Global Strat View hosted a panel at the National Press Club with Senior Journalist Chip Tsao and International Security and Geopolitics Analyst Asanga Abeyagoonasekera of the South Asian Foresight Network. Global Strat View’s Senior Correspondent for East and South Asian Affairs, Se Hoon Kim, moderated the discussion. The meeting came together to discuss the geopolitics of Hong Kong and current-day China’s expansion policies and what this could mean for other nations.

Journalist Chip Tsao opened the discussion with a picturesque description of Hong Kong, where he grew up. He set the tone of a peaceful and vibrant Hong Kong bustling with an “international community.” He described that the happenings in China also trickled over into Hong Kong. In 1997, Hong Kongers were met with the devastating news that Hong Kong would go back to China, changing the One Country Two System policy that was in place at the time. China’s Cultural Revolution in 1967, the spike in immigration in 1989, and now the Tiananmen crackdown all led to an “outgoing flooding” of people out of Hong Kong.

Abeyagoonasekera explained that China does not just fear NATO expansion, but Xi Jinping fears reaching the same fate as the Soviet Union. China’s actions, as a result, were focused on “tightening the grip” on its residents. Furthermore, he analyzed China’s interactions with other developing countries and warned that “Hong Kong can happen to any of [them].” For example, the Solomon Islands signed nine agreements with China that no other countries have viewed. He drew connections between the Sri Lankan anti-terrorism law and the newly proposed “Broadcast Act” to the Chinese Communist Party’s policies. As Kim summarized, “We were seeing a model being tested on one spot and being exported over to the other.”

When asked to speculate if Hong Kong could ever go back to what it used to be, Tsao was unsure. He said, “What scares me is the unpredictable unpredictability not only over Hong Kong but the rest of the world.”

This led to the discussion of the Beijing model vs. the Western model. Tsao concisely described the Beijing model as “control, administration, ordering, and manipulation.” He denoted the Western model as “a complexity of Western values, freedom, democracy, free market economy.” Hong Kong used to flourish under the laissez-faire economic system, but as Tsao put it, China is now “turning the clock back over Hong Kong,” and “by turning the clock back over Hong Kong, paradoxically, they’re telling the world that this is the future for you.” Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, and even Australia and New Zealand could all follow a similar plight. Tsao established that the Beijing model appears very enticing for countries in times of economic crisis. “Don’t forget,” he added, “former British Prime Minister David Cameron was very eager to watch… the golden era between China and Britain because Britain’s economy wasn’t doing well.”

Abeyagoonasekera then delved further into the question of why other countries are accepting the Beijing model. He discussed the complexities of the Western model and how capitalism has not always treated every country well. This is where President Xi comes in with his vision of the shared future consisting of the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Cultural Initiative.

Kim ended with the question of what is the next step for the world. Ultimately, the possibility of other countries becoming a version of Hong Kong is a scary possibility that we are left to face. But as Tsao mentioned early on, the “unpredictable unpredictability” of the matter leaves us guessing.

Author profile
Shreya Krishna

Shreya is a Research Assistant at the South Asia Foresight Network (SAFN).

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