Last week, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and then signed by President Trump.
The bill imposes sanctions on any Chinese or Hong Kong official found responsible for human rights abuses against pro-Democracy protesters who have taken to the streets for over six months now.
The U.S. action comes on top of the recent landslide victories in local Hong Kong elections, which gave strong support to the ongoing demonstrations and has been seen as a direct refutation of China’s attempts to maintain direct control over the semi-autonomous city.
The Human Rights bill was supported by a near-unanimous majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Among its provisions is an annual review of Hong Kong’s political autonomy, which, if threatened, would justify changes in trade relations.
This action has infuriated Chinese officials, who accuse the U.S. of “sinister intentions” and a “plot doomed to fail.”
They claim the U.S. action is a violation of international law and will have serious repercussions in the ongoing trade issues between the two countries.
In retaliation against the U.S. legislation, China’s Foreign Ministry said they will ban U.S. warships and military aircraft from making stops in Hong Kong.
More Violent Protest
This past weekend, more chaos erupted on the streets.
What started out as a peaceful march by tens of thousands of citizens, including parents with children, was eventually marred by groups of more extreme protesters wearing masks, who set off smoke bombs and began trashing stores associated with the mainland.
Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, reigniting scenes of destruction that had been ongoing for months, breaking a relative quiet after the recent pro-democracy landslide in local elections.
A number of the masked protestors made it clear they will continue their tactics until the remaining four demands, which have fueled the nearly seven-month long protest, are met.
These demands are:
- An independent review of police brutality
- Retraction of the riot label for previous protest acts
- Amnesty for arrested protesters
- The granting of universal suffrage
- Retraction of the extradition bill
The fifth demand of the protesters, the retraction of the extradition bill, which ignited the events in the first place, has been met.
As for the other demands, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam has agreed to add two new members to the review board looking into police brutality and will appoint a committee to look into economic and social reforms, she has made it clear that’s as far as it will go.
TRENDPOST: Should the ongoing violence by protesters continue to escalate, there will be a strong government crackdown. Moreover, Beijing will maintain its grip over the city’s “semi-autonomous” status.