Barely two weeks ago, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned that “countries must play by the rules. And that includes China”. I suppose it doesn’t include Britain. Her boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is about to tear up the post-Brexit trading deal for Northern Ireland with the European Union. As pointed out by the European Commission, the protocol is “a cornerstone of the [Brexit] withdrawal agreement, [which] is an international agreement”. So, what does unilaterally scrapping the deal mean? That’s breaching international law. I believe the technical term for that is “not playing by the rules”. The protocol involves transportation of goods between the United Kingdom (of which Northern Ireland is a part) and the Republic of Ireland. Before Brexit, as everyone was part of the EU, there were no border restrictions. After Brexit, as part of the UK, Northern Ireland would have needed customs and border controls between it and Ireland. The protocol is to ensure that no checks take place along the Irish border. Instead, inspections and document checks would take place between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, that is, England, Scotland and Wales. It’s not just about trade flow and transport efficiency. The issue of borders is most politically sensitive in Northern Ireland. A main reason for the protocol is to make sure the Good Friday Agreement or the Belfast Agreement of 1998, which put an end to decades of sectarian violence, is fully protected. Any unilateral change to the protocol could threaten the 1998 peace deal. Unfortunately, we are dealing with an erratic and unprincipled Johnson. There is, of course, one way to resolve the whole issue whose time has come: unify the entire island of Ireland. The latest elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature, saw Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party, securing a majority. This means its leader, Michelle O’Neill, is set to become first minister. Once described as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, it’s the first nationalist party to lead the government since the partition of Ireland in 1921. In the 2020 elections for the lower house of the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, Sinn Fein also won more votes than all the other parties. It’s time China exposed the UK for threatening international law. And given Beijing’s stance on national unification, it should push for the break-up of the British union to achieve Irish unification.