20 November 2019   Leave a comment

The US Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would require the US government to conduct an annual review of the special treatment that Hong Kong receives under US law. That special treatment involves Chinese adherence to the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration. That declaration stipulates that for 50 years (until 2047) “The current social and economic systems in Hong Kong will remain unchanged, and so will the life-style. Rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief will be ensured by law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Private property, ownership of enterprises, legitimate right of inheritance and foreign investment will be protected by law.”

The House of Representatives has already passed similar legislation, and the unanimous passage by the Senate of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 is a powerful statement. It is, however, unclear whether President Trump will sign the legislation since he is apparently concerned that the law will jeopardize the trade talks with China. On the other hand, if he vetoes the bill, the US will be ignoring the plight of the Hong Kongers who are demanding that the China-Britain agreement be honored. The Beijing government condemned the bills as an unwarranted intrusion into the internal affairs of China. The Global Times, a media outlet known to be close to the Chinese government, editorialized:

“The US Senate on Tuesday unanimously passed the ‘Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,’ a move that seriously tarnished sacred terms like ‘human rights’ and ‘democracy.’ The bill’s real title should be ‘Support Hong Kong Violence Act’ as it has overtly taken sides with rioters who are destroying the rule of law in Hong Kong. And it has targeted the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and Hong Kong police, who are struggling to prevent chaos from turning into anarchy. 

“The core of the new US bill is to oppose HKSAR government’s efforts to stop violence, end chaos as well as to prevent the Chinese central government from saving Hong Kong under any circumstance. The most prominent clause subjects the city to an annual review for its special trade status, which would strip Hong Kong of the status.  

“Some opposition figures in Hong Kong stupidly kowtow to Washington and express their gratitude for US support for the radical protesters’ ‘democracy struggle.’ But if the US imposes economic sanctions on Hong Kong, all Hong Kong people will have to bear the consequences. 

“Once the bill is signed by the US president, subtle changes will take place in Hong Kong’s international business environment, because of the uncertainties caused by the US. American investors in Hong Kong will panic, and the city’s geoeconomic status and function will be reevaluated.”  

We will have to see whether President Trump signs the bill.

Posted November 20, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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