Senators from the United States have passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Under this act, sanctions are allowed to be placed on individuals who are threatening the autonomous nature of Hong Kong.
When the Senate of the United States got together, the decision was unanimous. There wasn’t much to think about when passing this bill. Their goal was to protect the human rights of Hong Kong.
This same act was actually already approved last month. The House of Representatives approved their own version of the act. Before the act heads to President Trump, the two approved versions need to be reconciled.
Apart from sanctions on certain individuals, the bill also serves another function. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also need to check whether Hong Kong remains autonomous. If they do, then they pass for special training considerations.
These considerations strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a world financial center.
In addition to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a second bill has also been passed. The second bill protects the protesters more, as a ban has been placed on exporting certain items to Hong Kong police. These items include tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and more.
The White House has not released any comment on whether the bill will be approved immediately. However, the unanimous vote from the Senate will make it difficult for President Trump to outright veto it.
The China Factor
Upon hearing about this act, China already had strong feelings against it. The country warned the United States to stop meddling. If they did, there would be countermeasures in place.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman released a statement on how they felt about it. They said that the act neglects the truth of the matter. They also say that a double standard is applied through this bill.
They also stress how it is a blatant interference into matters that should only be between Hong Kong and China. They stress that it has crossed the lines of international law and international relations practices.
Moreover, while the unanimous vote makes it hard to veto,China may still play a part in President Trump’s decision.
One anonymous source stated that several of President Trump’s aides may speak against this act. They may see it as a problem for the on-going trade talks with China. However, there are also aides that think that it is time to stand up to China.
There is also a worry that the act may end up causing more harm than good for the Hong Kong protesters.
While the act is still on the cutting room floor, time for the Hong Kong protesters may be running out.
These past few days, the protests have been getting more and more violent. Protesters were using universities as headquarters. The police came out with full force to quell the protests. The police were armed with assault rifles, live rounds, tear gas, and more.
The shocking thing about it was how their sentiments and the tactics they used.
For instance, they had attempted to hide in an ambulance in order to immediately arrest the wounded. They also arrested neutral medics and journalists before moving in. There are also numerous videos of them trying to run protesters over.
More shocking is what they were saying. Some police members were caught on video saying that the protesters in the universities should stay inside. They said they wanted to recreate the Tiananmen Square massacre.
If the bill comes in time, it will be a much needed reprieve for the protesters.