Trump administration officials believe that Beijing's own actions - in particular, its recent behavior toward Hong Kong - are driving more nations to view China's Communist Party-led administration as a serious threat, a senior U.S. policy official says.
Recent crackdowns on dissent in the former British colony have come at "a huge reputational cost" to China's rulers, said Miles Yu, a member of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's policy planning staff, at a policy forum this week. Because of those actions, he added, "just about every liberal democracy in the world recognizes China as a threat."
Yu, a professor of military and diplomatic history at the U.S. Naval Academy who has emerged as a key force in shaping U.S. policy on China, was speaking to an international audience attending a webinar organized by the Canada-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
The event was co-sponsored by Hong Kong Watch, the European Values Center for Security Policy, and the International Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).
Yu said Hong Kong has provided the world with a measuring stick to assess Beijing's behavior since 1984, when a deal was struck to return the territory to Chinese sovereignty on the condition that it enjoy a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. The actual handover took place in 1997.
Hong Kong is "first and foremost a promise," Yu said. "It's a promise of a high degree of autonomy for 50 years - judicial independence, free press, individual liberty, rule of law."
What the world has witnessed, he added, is a promise made and a promise broken.
"You might say it has been broken in a very brutal and semi-fascist way."
For too long, Yu said, many of America's friends and allies have been reluctant to join it in an "alliance of democracies" to confront Beijing. But more recently, the U.S. sees that more countries are recognizing that China's communist-led government poses a threat not only to the United States but to everyone.