“It is only natural that those who love the country and Hong Kong should govern Hong Kong, while those anti-China disrupters who stir up troubles in Hong Kong should be knocked out.”
The co-ordinated Five Eyes statement is part of a wider diplomatic push to rein in China’s assertiveness while minimising the exposure of individual countries to retribution from Beijing. While Australia has been singled out for economic punishment this year over its calls for a coronavirus inquiry, India, Japan and Europe are now running their China policies through multilateral forums.
The inflammatory remarks from the foreign ministry came hours after China’s President Xi Jinping called for global co-operation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit.
“Openness enables a country to move forward, while seclusion holds it back,” he said. “I hope you will be partners for achieving win-win co-operation.”
But the Chinese President spent half of his speech discussing China’s new development strategy, which is designed to give itself protection from global economic or diplomatic shocks, as he insisted that China would not decouple or form a “small circle to keep others out”.
China is driving state subsidies into domestic production, consumption and innovation, banking its future prosperity on the hard work and spending habits of its population of 1.4 billion.
In his most explicit comments on the strategic shift to date, Xi said China would make distribution and the flow of goods and services in China more focused on the domestic market.
“The new development paradigm is a strategic decision we have made based on the current stage and conditions of development in China and with full consideration given to economic globalisation and changes in the external environment,” he said.
He noted the ratio of foreign trade to GDP in China had already fallen from 67 per cent in 2006 to less than 32 per cent in 2019. At the same time, he claimed, the contribution of China’s domestic demand to GDP exceeded 100 per cent, making domestic consumption the main driver of its growth.
“In promoting domestic and international circulations, the Chinese economy has become much more domestically driven and the performance of China’s development has been significantly enhanced,” he said.
The comments follow months of heightened tensions with Canberra, which culminated in the Chinese embassy issuing a list of 14 grievances with the Morrison government through the media while explicitly demanding Australia change course on its national security, foreign investment and human rights positions.
China’s foreign ministry is now planning to target Australia’s human rights record on Indigenous affairs and aged care as the strikes on up to a dozen Australian exports threaten up to $20 billion in trade.
“China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy,” a Chinese embassy official said in a briefing in Canberra on Tuesday.
Eryk Bagshaw is the China correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Due to travel restrictions, he is currently based in Canberra.