Le Monde: Hong Kong, victim of the U.S.-Chinese confrontation

In an Editorial published on May 23, 2020, France’s leading newspaper, Le Monde, raises the question of whether the hard-line policies of Donald Trump have unfortunately failed to influence China toward moderation.


Editorial, “Pékin veut durcir son emprise sur Hongkong, au mépris du principe « un pays deux systèmes »; L’attitude jusqu’au-boutiste de Donald Trump n’incite malheureusement pas la Chine à la modération,” Le Monde, le 23 mai 2020(10h36).

See also,

Allan Sloan, “Trump’s demonization of China puts U.S. in financial peril; Blaming China for the coronavirus might seem like smart politics, but insulting a creditor when the U.S. is running up a huge debt to stimulate the economy isn’t a good idea,” Washington Post, May 22, 2020

Le Monde writes,


“Le principe « un pays, deux systèmes », qui régit depuis 1997 les relations entre la Chine et Hongkong, vit ses dernières heures. L’Assemblée populaire nationale chinoise devrait approuver, jeudi 28 mai, un projet de loi imposant à Hongkong une loi sur la « sécurité nationale ». Prévu par l’article 23 de la mini-Constitution de Hongkong, ce texte dispose l’interdiction de tout acte de trahison, de sécession, de sédition et de subversion contre la Chine. Il n’avait jamais été formellement introduit, en raison de la très forte opposition des Hongkongais, qui le jugent liberticide.

Jusqu’où est prêt à aller Pékin ? Un nouveau raidissement du régime serait malheureusement la suite logique d’une politique qui assimile toute contestation à une « sédition », et tout dialogue à une faiblesse. L’Occident, de son côté, paraît à court de solutions. En multipliant ces derniers mois les provocations à l’égard de Pékin dans tous les domaines, Washington s’est décrédibilisé. Plus la Maison Blanche prétend venir en aide aux démocrates hongkongais, plus la population chinoise soutient son gouvernement.

L’argument de Pékin selon lequel les démocrates de Hongkong sont « manipulés » par les Etats-Unis n’est pas crédible, mais l’utilisation des contestataires par l’administration Trump a sérieusement nui à leur cause. Le nouveau coup de force de Pékin est tout autant la réponse à Donald Trump d’un pouvoir chinois devenu nationaliste, qu’une action destinée à ramener le calme à Hongkong.

Revised Google Translation

Le Monde writes,

“The principle of “one country, two systems “, which has governed relations between China and Hong Kong since 1997, is living its last hours. The Chinese National People’s Congress is expected to approve a bill imposing a law on Hong Kong on Thursday May 28 on “national security”. Provided for in article 23 of the Hong Kong mini-Constitution, this text prohibits any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against China. It had never been formally introduced, due to the very strong opposition of Hong Kong resodents, who consider it a death knell of freedom (liberticide).

How far is Beijing ready to go? A further stiffening of the regime would unfortunately be the logical continuation of a policy which equates all questioning of the regime (contestation) with “sedition”, and all dialogue with weakness. The West, for its part, seems to be running out of solutions. By increasing the provocations against Beijing in all areas in recent months, Washington has discredited itself. The more the White House claims to help the Hong Kong democrats, the more the Chinese population supports its government.

Beijing’s argument that the Democrats in Hong Kong are “being manipulated” by the United States is not credible, but the use of protesters by the Trump administration has seriously damaged their cause. Beijing’s new coup is as much the response to Donald Trump of a Chinese power that has become nationalistic as it is an effort to bring calm to Hong Kong.

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James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.