China is quickly becoming a rogue state. Recent months have demonstrated that the traditional international organisations that we depend on to rein in state actors that flout the international rules-based system are weak, to be generous, and incompetent, to be blunt. Closer union between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom could provide the axis of strong diplomacy that the World is crying out for.
When the Chinese Communist Party announced the new Security Laws they have now imposed on the people of Hong Kong, the World took an inward breath. Dismay that China would be so audacious as to ignore the Sino-British Joint-Declaration that enshrined in law Hong Kong’s political pseudo-independence was welcome. But it has yet to lead to the kind of decisive action that will deter further Chinese state arrogance.
Shortly after the Security Laws were passed, Dominic Raab led the international reaction demonstrating Global Britain’s willingness to stand firm against a state that pays no heed to the established international system. Many people in the UK were warmed by the sense of international solidarity which quickly formed. Australia and Canada joined Raab in condemning China’s actions in a joint statement. This was further strengthened by a conference with New Zealand and the US shortly afterwards.
Wheels have been put in motion to support Hong Kongers and the UK and her partners across CANZUK should be celebrated for the swift action they have taken, not least in offering a safe haven for those will wish to flee Beijing’s autocratic regime.
One would hope that the leading international institutions of the United Nations and the European Union would have rallied alongside CANZUK and the US. Yet members of the Human Rights Council at the UN were far from united, with many countries defending China’s actions.
In some analysts view, China has such widespread influence that they can act with impunity. Even relying on the much of the Human Rights Council’s support, despite acting in blatant violation of the rights the Council was set up to oppose.
Meanwhile, the EU have done litter beyond banning the export of surveillance equipment to China.
The truth of the matter is that through Chinese investment, existing debt and their Belt and Road infrastructure projects, China has bought a great deal of support and silence from the international community.
It is apparent that a new, more united and more agile international voice is needed to stand up for Human Rights around the World. One with the backbone to condemn not only China’s breach of the Hong Kong Joint Declaration, but which will also call out human rights abuses currently being inflicted in Zinjiang’s Uyghur concentration camps; in rural areas where new model towns are forcing communities out of their homes and against members of the LGBT community right across China.
CANZUK could act decisively using collective diplomatic clout spanning three continents with extensive international support, without being encumbered by the bureaucratic impotence of the European Union or the corrupting effect of Chinese warrior diplomacy on UN member states.
It has been taken for granted that the liberal World order will survive and thrive so long as the institutions founded to protect them are still standing. China is proving that such bodies are easily corrupted. CANZUK nations are founded on the democratic principles of liberalism, freedom and individual rights. They must play a stronger role in defending them, before it is too late.