United States President Donald Trump has signed a bill supporting pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong who have been protesting for the last five months against Beijing’s influence in Hong Kong politics. The protesters have been protesting against a bill that would have allowed for Beijing to request and get the extradition of arrestees accused of crimes against Beijing and the Communist Party.
The “The Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” (HKHRDA)(S. 1838; Pub.L. 116–76), is a bi-partisan bill supported by both Democrats and Republicans and supports the protesters, and Hong Kong. The bill’s mandate allows for the United States to impose sanctions on individuals who are convicted of human rights violations, and also to allow for the United States to make sure that Hong Kong is “upholding the rule of law and human rights” .
Protesters started protesting on June 5, 2019, against the extradition bill which they said, would end the “One Country, Two Systems,” form of governance which has been in place since 1997, the year that China resumed control after British rule.
Critics of the extradition bill, are afraid that it would pressure Hong Kong judges to allow for the extradition of arrestees to Beijing, even if the charges are suspected of being trumped up by the Communist Party.
Hong Kong was a territory under British rule from 1841 to 1941 and again from 1945 to 1997. After 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed a system where it is technically under the rule of China but has maintained a significant degree of autonomy since 1997, however that autonomy has been challenged lately by China.
The increased interference in Hong Kong’s autonomy started four years ago when Chinese agents started kidnapping Hong Kong residents who were perceived to be anti-Beijing. It started in 2015 when five publishers were kidnapped in Beijing and continued the next couple of years. One notable person who was kidnapped was a Chinese Canadian billionaire named Xiao Jianhua. He was abducted in 2017 and brought to mainland China and hasn’t been heard since.
Often times, those who were abducted have trumped up charges against them by the Communist Party and have little to no legal rights once they are brought to China. Several voices have spoken out against the proposed bill, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. The chamber said it “had grave concerns about the law,” and the U.S- China Economic and Security Review commission said that the law would “could pose a significant risk to U.S national security and economic interests in the territory.”
According to reports, the Hong Kong government has the votes to pass the law once the protests die down.
Judges in Hong Kong have also expressed their concern about the law, fearing that it would strain the independence between Hong Kong and Beijing.
Concluding, President Trump did the right thing in signing the bill as China is one of if not the biggest enemies of the United States and is attempting to increase it’s sphere of influence in the Pacific rim and around Asia, and with it, the lack of Democratic principles and the rule of law.