After coronavirus fiasco, China fast-tracks attempts to fully control Hong Kong

Washington D.C. [US], April 26 (ANI): As the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a big blow to China's credibility in the world, Beijing has sensed the mounting pressure and fast-tracked its attempts to put Hong Kong under its direct control.

Whether it was the arrest of 15 prominent pro-democracy politicians with the help of Hong Kong police or proclaiming authorities to represent the central government to exercise oversight, China has taken several major steps in a week or so to achieve its goal to impose 'complete-control governance' in the financial hub of Asia.

Yi-Zheng Lian, the former chief editor of the Hong Kong Economic Journal, wrote in New York Times that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced China to act fastly as the virus, which first originated in its territory, has changed the way the world looks at Beijing.

"Sensing mounting international opprobrium and fearing economic decoupling with major Western powers, the Chinese government appears to believe that it must act, and fast, to once again turn Hong Kong into its window onto the rest of the world," wrote Lian.

Some of the draconian steps that China has taken in recent days in regard with Hong Kong are --- Thee Central Liaison Office, China's leading agency in Hong Kong, has recently declared that it had "the authority to represent the central government to exercise oversight, be concerned about and express stern views on important matters involving the relationship between the centre and the special administrative region," among other things.

Also this past week, a major reshuffle was announced of principal officials in the Hong Kong government. Notably, the new head of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, which oversees electoral affairs, will be Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, a hard-liner who most recently headed the Immigration Department, during a period when it barred some journalists from the territory.

Possibly on China's behalf, Hong Kong's much-politicized police arrested 15 prominent pro-democracy politicians for organising and participating in some of the biggest peaceful demonstrations held last year in opposition to Beijing's increasing interference with Hong Kong's affairs.

Lian is of the view that the Hong Kong police's excesses against pro-democracy protesters multiplied and intensified last year, and as Beijing's rhetoric became more and more belligerent and the size of its garrisons in the city grew, some worried that China would consider sending in troops to quell the unrest.

"The idea of a full-blown military crackdown, which struck others as alarmist, far-fetched or misleading then, seems like a more plausible prospect now that the coronavirus pandemic has undermined China's standing in the world," he stated. (ANI)