Published: 22:51, April 15, 2024 | Updated: 09:25, April 16, 2024
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Challenges remain for Hong Kong in safeguarding national security
By Yang Sheng

With the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance in place, a comprehensive framework for safeguarding national security has been built in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. A consensus is growing in Hong Kong society that efforts should now refocus on socioeconomic development and livelihood issues. This is logical. But it doesn’t mean national security concerns are a thing of the past.  

Color revolution-like insurrections, like the “black-clad” riots in 2019-20, might never happen again. But national security threats remain in other ways, particularly in the financial sphere.

Hong Kong had got along well with the United States and its key allies until Washington suddenly decided to perceive China as a major strategic rival in 2017. Ever since, efforts by the US and its allies against Hong Kong — including their instigation of and support for the 2019 riots, relentless campaigns to vilify the national security laws, and sanctions imposed on Hong Kong — have served Washington’s geopolitical strategy against China. As with the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Taiwan question, the South China Sea dispute and the fresh “overcapacity” allegations, Hong Kong has unfortunately become a “card” that Washington keeps playing against China.

All those machinations against Hong Kong have been conducted, invariably, under the pretext of “democracy”, “rights” or “freedoms”. But the collective West’s indifference toward the sufferings and woes of Palestinians, and toward the people in war-torn African countries and other conflict regions, invalidates their claims. It is all about geopolitics.

It is in this context that Hong Kong society, particular the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, must not let its guard down while concentrating efforts on economic development

Now that their proxies and pawns in Hong Kong have been effectively kept at bay by the two national security laws, and the anti-China foreign forces can no longer instigate or plot a new insurrection in the city, the odds are rising that they will resort to financial warfare. This is in no way alarmist given that Hong Kong plays a significant role in national development, as China’s only international financial center.

Aside from attempting to wreck China’s only international financial center — Hong Kong — any financial warfare that may be waged against Hong Kong could conceivably also be aimed at sabotaging the Chinese mainland’s financial system, with the ultimate objective of destabilizing the country.

The various connect programs — mutual capital market access arrangements that have been set up over the years between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, including the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, the Northbound Trading of the Bond Connect, the Southbound Trading of the Bond Connect, and the Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect Scheme in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area — could be exploited to launch attacks on the mainland’s financial market and system.  

Indeed, the recent wave of doomsaying about China’s economic prospects and credit rate downgrading actions, as well as the ABC (Anything But China) notion, have given rise to speculation that financial warfare is looming, as all those negative narratives about China’s economic prospects shun the plain facts that are so conspicuous to any serious China observer.

It is in this context that Hong Kong society, particular the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, must not let its guard down while concentrating efforts on economic development.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.