China Accuses U.S. of Abusing National Security Excuse While Doing Same in Hong Kong, Xinjiang

China's foreign ministry has again hit out at the U.S. for citing national security concerns in its latest action against Chinese firms, part of Washington's effort to contain Beijing's growing influence and push back against its malign economic practices abroad.

President Donald Trump's administration is continuing its hawkish China strategy even as the commander in chief prepares to leave the White House to make way for President-Elect Joe Biden.

On Monday, the president signed an executive order directing federal agencies to assess any risks from Chinese-made drone fleets in government use, and to prioritize their removal if any risks are found.

The order also includes drones made by other American adversaries, including Russia, Iran and North Korea, Reuters reported.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Tuesday condemned the order, accusing the Trump administration of abusing the concept of national security to unfairly target Chinese firms.

"The practice of politicizing science and technology will only damage America's own interests, image and credibility," Hua said. "We urge the U.S. to abide by the principles of fair competition, stop unreasonable accusations and suppression of non-U.S. companies, and provide Chinese companies with a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment."

The U.S. has repeatedly taken action against Chinese firms over national security concerns. Huawei, the TikTok video app and companies linked to the Chinese military have all fallen foul of the Trump administration's push back on Beijing.

Chinese officials have duly condemned what they say is American protectionism and paranoia, suggesting the measures are prompted more by the U.S. fear of losing global hegemony rather than economic issues.

But China too has been accused of abusing the concept of national security to ensure its own political power goes unchallenged. In both Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the Chinese Communist Party has pushed ahead with human rights abuses to block demands for reform, excusing its actions by declaring them necessary to ensure national security.

The Hong Kong national security law is perhaps the most obvious example. The CCP passed legislation last summer effectively criminalizing dissent, following a year of mass pro-democracy protests.

Hong Kong authorities loyal to Beijing have since used the law to round up and imprison prominent pro-democracy campaigners, despite protests from the international community and U.S. sanctions.

In Xinjiang, some 1 million members of Muslim minority groups are believed to be held in CCP re-education camps, while outside Beijing has created a fearsome surveillance state to watch for any hint of anti-government dissent.

Beijing claims the camps are vocational training centers, but critics have described them as concentration camps where the CCP is engaging in cultural genocide.

China has also claimed the camps are necessary to combat separatist and Islamist extremism in Xinjiang, which has claimed dozens of lives across the country. But critics say the camps are a disproportionate response to the threat from such groups, and represent an attempt to erase any culture or identity diverging from the country's dominant Han Chinese ethnic group.

Trump's parting shots are characteristic of his administration's China-skeptic stance. Beijing is waiting to see what tack President-Elect Joe Biden takes when he moves into the White House this week, hoping the veteran politician will be more predictable and amenable.

But Biden has vowed to push back on Chinese economic, human rights and territorial abuses if required. He also plans to put human rights and democracy at the center of his foreign policy agenda, likely meaning more future conflict with the authoritarian CCP.

Hong Kong Jimmy Lai back to jail
A prison van leaves carrying Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai outside the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on December 31, 2020, after he was ordered back to jail as the city's highest court granted prosecutors an appeal against his bail. ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty