Donald Trump decided to show Chinese officials his sanctions capabilities and begin to put pressure on the Chinese political elite, including at the level of relatives, bank accounts, and smartphones.
After China finally adopted a new law on national security, which allowed official Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities to closely engage in the elimination of the pro-American underground in this special administrative region of the PRC, several options for retaliatory measures were discussed in the United States, which were supposed to show the Chinese authorities that their “Maidanists” Washington will not give offense or at least avenge them.
Various options were discussed, and some of them were embodied in the corresponding “sanctions bills” adopted by the US Congress and the Senate (for example, the ironically named “Hong Kong Autonomy Bill”), and the other part was discussed at the level of Donald Trump’s administration.
The most famous was the plan leaked in the American media for a financial attack on the Hong Kong banking system, which some experts compared to the use of “financial nuclear weapons.”
The ultimate goal of this plan was to bring down the monetary system of Hong Kong and its currency, the Hong Kong dollar, by directly cutting off key banks in this special administrative region of China from access to the dollar system and, possibly, to the SWIFT interbank transfer system.
However, the Donald Trump administration decided to take a different approach, the very essence of which should be quite offensive for Beijing: the fact is that Chinese officials associated with Hong Kong and the suppression of pro-American political forces were primarily targeted by US sanctions. And only at first glance, it might seem that such actions are a purely symbolic gesture. In fact, it has a very serious implication.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reports: “On Friday, the Trump administration imposed economic sanctions on 11 incumbent and former Chinese officials, including Hong Kong SAR Administrative Secretary Carrie Lam, which heralded a sharp escalation of tensions with Beijing from – for the introduction by him of the law on national security in relation to the semi-autonomous city.
Lam (as a target for sanctions – Ed.) Was selected by the US Treasury Department for “enforcing Beijing’s policy of suppressing freedom and democratic processes”, citing her involvement last year in an effort to pass an extradition law (from Hong Kong to mainland China – Ed.) And its recent participation in the “development, adoption or implementation of the” national security law”.
It would seem that the long arms of the Washington “anti-Chinese hawks” will not be able to reach the Hong Kong officials with all their might: after all, the “SEALs” will not storm the government residence in Hong Kong, and they will not be able to arrest them through Interpol.
But after the imposition of sanctions that prohibit American individuals and companies from making deals and providing services to these “toxic” officials, it became clear that some damage could still be done, at least if the information from the Hong Kong media is correct.
The same South China Morning Post clarifies: “The closest relatives of the victims (sanctions. – Ed.) Were drawn into this story. According to local media reports, the youngest of two sons, Carrie Lam (the de facto premier of Hong Kong. – Ed.), Joshua is currently attending graduate school in mathematics at Harvard University. ”
And even more – as it turned out, the Minister of Justice of the regional government and members of her family are the majority shareholders of the Hong Kong company, which, in turn, owns the American elevator manufacturer Transel Elevator & Electric Inc, located in New York.
It is worth noting that these are only those “family ties” with the United States, which the local media could discover in a few days among Hong Kong officials (who seem to be very concerned about the fight against American influence and “color revolutions” inspired by the United States).
It cannot be ruled out that the American authorities not only have information of the same kind but also that the US Treasury Department has much more complete (and interesting from the point of view of causing economic and image damage) information about the assets and relatives of more or less high-ranking officials.
Accordingly, in the coming months, all this compromising evidence (with the likely concomitant freeze, and in fact – the expropriation of assets and the abolition of visas and green cards) will be used to demonstrate that some Chinese officials prefer to invest in the economy of the country with which they seem to be leading an irreconcilable struggle, trusting her with the education of their offspring.
Noteworthy is the fact that, according to one of the experts interviewed by the South China Morning Post, the officials affected by the sanctions (and perhaps even their family members) will not be able to officially repair themselves, for example, an iPhone.
There is also a risk that they will not be able to fully use American social networks, because Apple and Facebook may decide to comply with the sanctions and comply with the ban on transactions in the most literal way.
In addition, the risk of so-called secondary sanctions will now hang over the entire Hong Kong banking system – that is, sanctions in the form of disconnecting from the dollar system for providing financial services to high-ranking local authorities, which will actually lead to the implementation of the very plan to attack the Hong Kong monetary system. which we wrote above.
Only in this scheme will the United States be able to claim that the attempt to bankrupt this Chinese financial center and break the Hong Kong dollar was not an act of deliberate financial terrorism, but simply the consistent application of sanctions in the name of protecting democracy and human rights from Hong Kong officials.
The message directed towards the Chinese elite is obvious: the time of exclusively tariff wars and diplomatic threats is over, and Washington is ready to “get personal”, creating personal problems for specific officials and their families, from everyday life to financial level.
In theory, this is a very strong move, which has repeatedly shown its effectiveness at an informal level in Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe – where the elite capitulated even before the introduction of such sanctions with only one threat of depriving them of access to the international financial system.
But in the case of China, there is a nuance that may elude the attention of the US State Department and Treasury.
Chairman Xi pursues a consistent policy of stimulating patriotism in the ranks of the economic and political elite, while China as a whole is comparatively successful in trying to build an economic and socio-cultural system alternative to the West, in which a conventional official can find himself Chinese alternatives for everything: starting from smartphones (conventional Huawei instead of conventional Apple ), continuing with banks (the conditional Bank of China instead of the conditional Bank of America) and even ending with casino entertainment, which in Macau is no worse than in Las Vegas.
China even has its own offshore company in the form of Hong Kong, whose financial system official Beijing will protect to the last.
So the result of Donald Trump’s targeted strike on Chinese officials and businessmen (which is worth only an attempt to “squeeze” the social network TikTok) may be the opposite: a sharp acceleration in the nationalization of the Chinese political and business elite, followed by a tightening of Chinese policy towards the United States.
Once again, Washington has confused China and Africa, and the consequences of this mistake will be the most interesting.