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China Folds: For All Its Bluster, Beijing Does Nothing After Trump Signs HK Bill

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Just a few hours after Trump called China’s bluff on the Hong Kong bill, it appears the US president won the pot.

After launching a stern verbal protest overnight in which China’s Foreign Ministry said that it would take strong countermeasures if the US continues to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy after Trump signed the Bill that supports HK protesters, adding that US attempts to interfere in HK are doomed to fail, Beijing has done nothing really, and instead left the door open for a trade deal with the U.S., confirming again that China needs the trade deal with the US just as much as Trump, if not more.

The build up certainly was dramatic: for days after Congress almost unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last week, China repeatedly vowed it would take unspecified countermeasures if Trump signed the bill, fueling concerns that President Xi Jinping would scuttle the trade talks to appear tough on the U.S. In the end, China did nothing: Wednesday’s bill signing by Mr. Trump came and went without any real action.

Instead, as the WSJ notes, “Chinese officials shifted their focus to whether the U.S. president would implement any of the bill’s measures, according to officials involved in economic policy-making.” Specifically, to save face, Beijing seized on a sentence in Trump’s statement that emphasized his “constitutional authorities with respect to foreign relations.”

Or as the WSJ summarized, for all its huffing and puffing, “China’s leadership still wants a deal to help alleviate pressure on its fast-weakening economy”, which incidentally coincides with Trump’s own interest as he hopes to clinch a deal to boost his re-election bid.

Indeed, as the WSJ’s Lingling Wei also notes, Trump “Trump also chose the evening before Thanksgiving to sign the measure, a time guaranteed to get little attention in the U.S. While his signature still makes the bill law, his timing suggests he was trying to play down the political impact at home.

Trump’s successful gambit was concluded when reporters asked if the bill’s signing would affect trade talks. To this, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang didn’t answer directly but demanded the U.S. not implement the law because it would risk “undermining our bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas.” Chinese officials were also reportedly encouraged by Trump’s efforts to emphasize his respect for Mr. Xi. “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said unironically in the statement.

And since the actual implementation of the bill wold not take place for over half a year, when it comes to China it is now officially in the rearview mirror as Beijing has moved the goalpost not to responding to Trump’s signing of the bill, but to Washington’s actual implementation.

“It does spoil the mood, but it shouldn’t interfere with the trade talks,” said Wang Yong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, of Mr. Trump’s move. “Both sides have enough reasons to keep trade, Hong Kong and political issues on separate tracks.”

Which means that with both sides now eager to sign a deal, they will ignore any political theater that could potentially jeopardize such a deal:

Some outside experts agree with Beijing’s interpretation that while the U.S. law gives the president broad powers to impose sanctions and travel restrictions on individuals who commit human-rights violations in Hong Kong, the president already had many of those powers—and still has the discretion to not apply them.

“My reading of D.C. is there’s a lot of appetite for talking tough on China, but not that much in terms of actually being tough,” said Andrew Polk, founder of Trivium, a Beijing-based economics and policy consulting firm.

Still, there is a modest risk that Xi will be pressured to offer at least a token response: as noted earlier, China’s top twitter troll, Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the state-run Global Times, said on Twitter that China was considering barring those responsible for drafting the legislation from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Trolling Trump’s turn of phrase, Hu said this was “out of respect for President Trump, the U.S. and its people.”

Yet ultimately passage of any trade deal could depend on whether Hong Kong residents escalate their protests in the coming days, emboldened by explicit US support – in that case, Beijing may have no choice but to close the door, if only temporarily, on a Phase 1 deal.

China’s attempts to keep Hong Kong issues and the trade talks on separate tracks might not be universally popular, some analysts say. Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said it could be embarrassing for a phase-one trade deal to progress in light of the Hong Kong law.

Yet despite the various unknowns and risks, the fact that Beijing has so far merely stuck to verbal threats instead of escalating to actual deeds, confirms that for now, Trump’s signing gamble worked out just as the US president expected.

via zerohedge

16 COMMENTS

  1. https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/11/28/hong-kong-protesters-hold-trump-rocky-balboa-posters-at-thanksgiving-rally/

    President Trump is an AMAZING leader. Yep, not kowtowing to China. Showing what a true leader can do while supporting Hong Kong and their fight to end Communism.

    Seeing Hong Kong with their American Flags and singing our National Anthem, and LOVE that they are showing Our “Fighting” President, was GREAT! Stand Strong Hong Kong! Thoughts and prayers sent your way!

    GOD BLESS PRESIDENT TRUMP! GOD BLESS THE USA!

    • Agree totally! Bravo President Tump! An AWESOME MAN who’s not afraid and is sure of himself, God Bless the Hong Kogners, May the always be free from China’s yoke.! BRAVO MAGA 2020

    • It was very beautiful to witness how other nations really appreciate our freedom that we enjoy here. All socialists are ashamed of our greatness, unlike a former second class first woman felt ashamed! Those ungrateful, lazy, ignorant fools want to turn us into Venezuela, Cuba or North Korea. We should send them walking through Mexico and Central America on the way to their desirable forms of government. I came from a hell hole so corrupt that every elected official is an employee of the cartels.
      Last election I voted for the best person to become President. I truly believe that Queen Hillary would be the best President of……….Mexico!!!
      MAGA 2020!!! We must spread the TRUTH about President Trump and all the great achievements he has done. Convince two or three and we will do the job. It is our RESPONSIBILITY to protect our nation. Clean the Two Chambers of Congress and we will leave true freedom for our future generations!

  2. China never keeps their word. Nothing they have promised has come to pass. They are hoping Trump will pass, and are trying to stall until after 2020. They are playing a long-game (100-year marathon).
    China may have elected Xi as president-for-life, but their old guard officials are still around. That’s why we see so much contradictory statements out of China.
    Trump has been studying China for decades. He’s on the right track — hurting their pocketbook. Their economy is crashing. When they start running out of available cash, they may be more compliant.

    • Have all the faith in President Trump. Read his book regarding his thoughts on China. Definitely on the right track about hurting their pocketbooks. We see it here with the Dems and their Globalists friends who want to get rid of President Trump because their pocketbooks are emptying of OUR tax dollars. Let China stall all they want. In 2020 they will see President Trump AGAIN. Unless the Dems do something to stop the election in November, and I wouldn’t put anything pass them.

      GOD BLESS PRESIDENT TRUMP! GOD BLESS THE USA!

  3. How long has it been now, a day o so? What they do just haven’t been revealed yet, But watch what will happen is they will deck the orange buffoon and we all we suffer.

    • We have been suffering due to the last administration and his apology tour. And let’s not forget Joe Biden and Hunter and their BILLION dollar loan from China. Only way we will suffer is if the Dems and their infiltrated scum do something to make it so.

      GOD BLESS PRESIDENT TRUMP! GOD BLESS THE USA!

    • That’s Mr. President to you. You and the libs will never be half the man Trump is. Three years of trying to take him down and it hasn’t happened. I would think all of you would feel just a little foolish by now. You certainly look foolish.
      TRUMP 2020
      MAGA KAG !!!!

  4. Finally an administration standing up to china or the ccp (Chinese communist party)……..with all the issues mounting on china, human rights,Taiwan independence , persecution of muslims and now HK protests, and who knows what else, oh did I forget organ harvesting from prisoners of conscious for their lucrative organ transplant industry……it appears the end times for the evil specter of communism…..

  5. Fake news in the beginning paragraphs. U.S. is NOT trying to UNDERMINE Hong Kong’s autonomy. The U.S. SUPPORTS Hong Kong’s autonomy.

  6. President Trump should win the Nobel Piece Prize, no CARREER POLITICIAN, has done what he has done and continues to do and I don’t know where we will be after 2020! How will the next President “continue” with the same programs, will he “lock” up all the criminal politicians who have made millions at the TAXPAYER expense, will he jail the Brennon’s, the Comey’s, the Waters, the SHIFTLESS, Swallwells, and the Romneys, will he continue to MAGA objectives? You have to wonder what is has been like under the previous 4 carreer politicians and “think” we need more business men in politics rather than lawyers, politicians, car salesmen, etc!

  7. Hey Steve! You are one of the sorry donkeys who don’t care about the greatness of our nation. Why are Chinese using our great flag that stands for freedom and intelligence challenged fools don’t understand. I don’t think that you are so ignorant by yourself. Did you get so ignorant from your mother’s side, your father’s side or from both. Read the Bible, not as religious book, but as the greatest book ever written full of wisdom and the Constitution, the greatest document ever written to create our great country. Read about all the accomplishments that President Trump has achieved in spite of idiots like all of you. Your party learned from Mexico how to win elections for 75 years. There dead people vote and now democrats are using illegals to vote!!
    We must use the fingerprint to cast our ballots!
    MAGA 2020!!!

  8. china needs us we don’t need them trump and business people know it. We are the chinese economy. China the dollar store country and copy cats.

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