U.S. Doesn't 'Have the Guts' to Face Down China, State Media Says As Beijing Congratulates Biden

Chinese state media has once again hit out at the U.S. and its Western allies after Beijing's latest clampdown on pro-democratic opposition in Hong Kong, suggesting that Washington, D.C. is unwilling to take on China over the territory.

Global Times—a state-run nationalistic newspaper that airs the more belligerent sentiments from within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—published an inflammatory editorial Thursday claiming that Western pressure on Beijing over its human rights abuses "won't succeed," and suggesting the West does not "have the guts" to face down Beijing.

The editorial was published a day before the CCP finally congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, following a week of near-silence from Beijing on the race—which is still being disputed by President Donald Trump.

China is waiting to see what Biden's foreign policy looks like. The former vice president has vowed to stand up to China's human rights abuses, military expansionism and malign trade practices.

Experts do not expect Biden to bring a sudden end to the bubbling U.S.-China conflict, which is likely to loom over American foreign policy for at least another generation.

Hong Kong is on the front lines of this clash. Trump's White House threw its weight behind the pro-democracy protesters that have brought the city to a standstill over the past 18 months, but the outgoing president initially showed little interest in the movement and even praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's response.

This week the U.S., alongside other nations like the U.K. and Germany, condemned Beijing's expulsion of four pro-democracy lawmakers from Hong Kong's Legislative Council body. The remaining pro-democracy lawmakers resigned in protest, marking the end of explicit pro-democracy opposition in the LegCo.

Global Times said Western criticism is meaningless. "Is there any Western country thinking it has the ability to pressure China to yield? Not at all," the newspaper wrote.

"Western forces have quite complicated and selfish considerations when they step in the muddy waters of Hong Kong question. They want to contain China by messing up Hong Kong, but they are unlikely to sacrifice their own interests to seek dominance over Hong Kong affairs. They know they won't succeed, nor do they have the guts to do that."

"No external force can become a lever to help the opposition to challenge the central government constitutionally," the editorial added, directed at those Hong Kongers hoping for more U.S. action.

Trump still has two months in office, in which time he could expand American action on Hong Kong. Earlier this week, his administration placed new sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong individuals believed to be involved in eroding the territory's limited autonomy.

The coming weeks will also see the next State Department report on Hong Kong's autonomy, which could produce further sanctions against individuals and corporations linked to the erosion of human rights in Hong Kong.

But the Chinese government and its media apparatus have warned they will not budge on Hong Kong. "Hong Kong has returned to China," Global Times wrote. "The Hong Kong opposition should do what Chinese people should do. If they resist Hong Kong's return, they'd better migrate to the Western countries they worship."

Hong Kong, China, biden, LegCo, Trump, election
Pro-Beijing supporters gather outside of the Legislative Council on November 12, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images/Getty