The G7 Has No Right to Dictate China’s Sovereignty

The fact that Hong Kong is a part of China and constitutes its own legal and lawfare territory, is conveniently ignored.

On June 17, the G7 of industrialized nations, being Britain, Japan, the United States, Germany, Italy, Canada and France, released a statement urging China to reconsider its upcoming national security law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), arguing that the legislation is “not in conformity” with the city’s basic law, the principle of one country two systems, or the Sino-British declaration.

“We strongly urge the Government of China to re-consider this decision,” it said. Several weeks ago, the act had been passed by China’s National People’s Congress, the country’s supreme law-making body which holds constitutional governance of Hong Kong’s basic law.

Sino-British declaration has long been terminated

The Sino-British declaration is important, is as the spirit of keeping a treaty commitment, but the bigger question is, who defines its scope and its interpretation? And ought China, the subject country whose territory Hong Kong constitutes a part of, be entitled to such a say?

Seemingly not.

The city of course has entitled autonomies and respective differences from the system in the mainland, however the west’s attitude towards the Sino-British declaration is intrinsically unfair because it is viewed as an unequal treaty, that is a group of superior nations have an inalienable right to dictate one-sided terms to China on what constitutes its own sovereign rights, irrespective of the facts.

Sino-British Declaration deals with the hand-over of Hong Kong from British rule back to China’s sovereignty. With the hand-over happened on 0:00 am July 1, 1997, the Declaration finished its mandate and became history. It has no mandate at all since that time. Since that date, Hong Kong has been governed by the Constitution of People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR.

Leaders of China and Britain stand to attention following the hoisting of the flags at the handover ceremony in Hong Kong minutes after midnight of July 1, 1997. (Photo: Reuters)

China has always been perceived by the West as a “junior partner”

The western attitude towards China has always been that of perceiving the country as a “junior partner” such being that Beijing is an inherently inferior nation which ought to be placed under the moral leadership and vision of the west, whom have an inherent duty to “keep it in check” and guide it on their path, with China’s acceptance only being permissible on the terms and conditions of which they have set for it other than the premise of it as an equal, sovereign and distinct partner.

This is an attitude which they have held from the very beginning, that China is a “moral problem” to be addressed and ultimately brought the western standard of politics and civilization, and that any attempted dissent from this position is rendered a threat and danger to humanity.

The Hong Kong issue is interpreted on these lines.

The west believe that they are anointed guardians whom “protect” the city from an “aggressive” China, whom despite the city being a creation of western colonialism and handed back to Beijing, has no actual right there.

The fact that Hong Kong is a part of China and constitutes its own legal and lawfare territory, is conveniently ignored in favour of this narrative of a pervasive illegitimate threat and that some nations have more say on its future than the country it is a part of.

G7 overlooks a number of important legal facts

Their rendering of the national security law as something illegitimate is false and repeatedly overlooks a number of important legal facts.

First of all, Article 18 of the basic law wills Beijing’s jurisdiction over Hong Kong in the fields of national security, sovereignty and defence. It also states that the national people’s congress has the sovereign right to impose laws in the annex of Hong Kong’s basic law in these areas, this is not unconstitutional. Hong Kong’s basic law itself also mandates a National Security law in article 23, how can the west claim that a national security law contravene the principle of One Country, Two systems when this was agreed and anticipated in the first place? National security is a sovereign right, and they wish to deprive that.

Secondly, the claim that China wants to contravene or abolish the model of One Country, Two systems is also grotesquely and repeatedly exaggerated. Not only on the grounds established above, but on the premise that the laws purpose is only to end problems such as secessionism, treason, collusion with foreign forces and unrest which seeks to rock the city’s stability and governance. The national security law in HKSAR involves One Country and not influence Two Systems. This does not mean the freedoms as specified in the basic law and as promised to be upheld, will be removed or squandered. In addition, the mainland continues to benefit from Hong Kong’s high quality, independent economic system backed up by the rule of law. These aspects are not going to be changed when they offer so many positives and incentives for China’s economic development.

G7 has no right to interfere in China’s domestic affair

Instead, the “Guardian mentality” as preached by the west onto Beijing is not acting in good faith, and assuming that a given group of countries have more say over Hong Kong than its host country.

The bigger problem lies in the inherent sense of inequality in how the west views China, that it ought to be transformed to fit their moral vision, that they have a right to encourage and support perpetual chaos in the city in the pursuit of broader geopolitical objectives, and that the Sino-British declaration operates more of a line of defence rather than an equal treaty whereby two parties have the same weight on it.

The G7 has no right to dictate China’s domestic affairs, and nor are they legal to interfere the passage of the national security law in line with constitutional means.


Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain, and the US.

The opinion in this article reflects the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China Focus.

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