File photo of US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Photograph:( Reuters )
Over the weekend, they defied the lockdown and began their campaign against Beijing again. All through this week, the world has witnessed these protests.
From Hong Kong to Washington DC and even Taiwan, they are hitting back at China with warnings, threats, and even support to the people of Hong Kong. In less than a week, there have been five retaliatory moves already.
Retaliation number one: the pro-democracy protesters are back on the streets.
Over the weekend, they defied the lockdown and began their campaign against Beijing again. All through this week, the world witnessed the protests. Despite an aggressive crackdown from the Hong Kong police who have arrested at least 360 people, the cops haven't been able to completely stop them.
The anger in Hong Kong is palpable. The pro-democracy protesters have already declared that they will fight back.
The United States too wants to ride on the wave of anger against Beijing. It wants to make the status of Hong Kong an international issue. The Trump administration took two big steps. First, it tried to raise Hong Kong at the Security Council by calling for an emergency meeting only to be blocked by China.
The US said that the issue of Hong Kong is a "matter of global concern". China rejected the request. Beijing said Hong Kong was an internal matter. China's ambassador to the United Nations put out two tweets calling America the troublemaker of the world.
The United States says that the Communist Party is afraid. So, it blocked the virtual meeting. America failed in its bid to raise Hong Kong at the UN.
But, the world did take notice when the United States made the announcement. The Trump administration declared that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous. It wasn't a statement or a comment from a lawmaker. It was US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who notified the US Congress.
The US has maintained a special relationship with Hong Kong. The Americans used to treat Hong Kong as a separate entity which allowed Hong Kong to become a financial centre.
However, it looks like Trump wants to end all special treatment. So far the US has not revoked any special privileges. But, Washington is certainly leaning towards it.
Until now, Hong Kong was protected from any sanctions imposed on China. It was not subjected to the high tariffs slapped by Trump on Chinese goods.
It's not just the US government that wants to retaliate. American lawmakers have strengthened Trump's hand with the US Congress approving a bill calling for sanctions on China allowing the president to punish oppression of the Uighur Muslims in China. The bill calls for sanctions against those who are responsible for the crackdown against Uighurs in China.
The US lawmakers are targeting specific members of the Communist Party. The bill singles out the Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo. It accuses him of "Gross human rights violations."
Chen is also a member of the politburo, a group of 25 people who oversee the party. The bill will now go to the White House where US President Donald Trump is expected to sign it or he can veto it too.
But, considering his government's wide ranging attacks on China no one expects the US president to veto it this time.
The fifth and final retaliation came from Taiwan. It is ready to help the people of Hong Kong. On Wednesday, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen, who China calls a "separatist" published a Facebook post in which she said that Taiwan's executive branch will come up with a "humanitarian action plan".
It proposes to give the right to Hong Kongers to flee Chinese crackdown and settle in Taiwan. With the Hong Kong bill, the Communist Party wanted to send a message that the coronavirus has not de-railed its agenda but, like these five retaliations show China has dug itself an even bigger hole.