China and Hong Kong have been at it for a while now and the US Congress and indeed, President Donald Trump, has set things on edge. Thanks to the new legislation by congress recognizing the rights of the citizens of Hong Kong to demonstrate.
How the Law was Received
The pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong rose in elation and cheered the members of the Congress and Donald Trump for passing two laws in support of the movement that has brought the city to a standstill. Beijing’s anger has been kindled and brought to the fore with officials describing the step as overly political. This, before summoning the top American diplomat in protest.
The uprising in Hong Kong began in June as a result of an extradition bill with a purpose to send alleged criminals to China to stand trial. While the bill never took off, the same cannot be said about the protests which have grown in size and rampage. The Decision to Act
The bills were signed by Trump and were almost unanimously consented to in the House and Senate although Trump did have reservations about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with President Xi. What’s more, a word about the bills being signed was hard to come by up until Wednesday’s announcement. Also, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo ignored a reporter’s question on Tuesday concerning Trump’s thoughts on the matter.
The bill, The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, requires the US to perform yearly reviews centered on Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing and was sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. If it gets unsatisfactory, the city’s special statue for US trading could be put to one side.
According to a statement by President Trump, he signed these bills “out of respect for President Xi, China and the people of Hong Kong.” He went on to say that the bills are being enacted in the hope that “Leaders and Representatives of Hong Kong and China will settle things peacefully” so things can get back to normal.
As expected, the statement has done little to calm Beijing with the Chinese Foreign Ministry stating that the bill will give more credence to the “resolve of the Chinese people and the Hong Kong people. The Ministry went on to say that the bills will further increase the evil intentions and overly political nature of the United States.
Furthermore, the Ministry pointed out that the US has” ignored facts and openly given encouragement to violent criminals” who have set things ablaze, harmed innocent residents, ridiculed the rule of law and made social order a joke. Hong Kong has threatened to use countermeasures but it is still unclear what they are.
Carrie Lam’s administration has openly condemned the laws with her office stating that “democracy is alive and well” in Hong Kong. The Office also cited the recently conducted elections that went in the direction of antigovernment candidates.
Protesters remain adamant though and cheered the bill. They have taken it to be a warning to Beijing and Hong Kong. According to one pro-autonomy protester, he hopes the bills serve as a “warning to Beijing and Hong Kong officials, the police and pro-Beijing sympathizers.” Whether that will be the case is a question for another day.
There’s more at stake than meets the eye. China, the United States and the people of Hong Kong, have a lot to be anxious about.