Over the weekend in Hong Kong, mostly peaceful demonstrators held a march to the U.S. Consulate, numbered in the hundreds of thousands, to get a message to President Trump and the United States.
Here’s more from AP:
Thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong urged President Donald Trump to “liberate” the semiautonomous Chinese territory during a peaceful march to the U.S. Consulate on Sunday, but violence broke out later in the business and retail district as police fired tear gas after protesters vandalized subway stations, set fires and blocked traffic.
Demonstrators flooded a park in central Hong Kong, chanting “Resist Beijing, Liberate Hong Kong” and “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom.” Many of them, clad in black shirts and wearing masks, waved American flags and carried posters that read “President Trump, please liberate Hong Kong” as they marched to the U.S. Consulate nearby.
Demonstrators also implored viewers in America to support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, sponsored by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ). More on those pro-American chants:
Earlier in the day, many protesters waved the Stars and Stripes and played “The Star Spangled Banner” on speakers as they walked up Garden Road to the American legation. Marchers called on the U.S. to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act—a measure that would require Washington to annually assess the enclave’s level of autonomy from Beijing and cancel its trading privileges if that autonomy is compromised.
The bill’s text reads like this:
It is the policy of the United States—
(1) to reaffirm the principles and objectives set forth in the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (Public Law 102–383), namely that—
(A) the United States has “a strong interest in the continued vitality, prosperity, and stability of Hong Kong”;
(B) “[s]upport for democratization is a fundamental principle of United States foreign policy”;
(C) “the human rights of the people of Hong Kong are of great importance to the United States and are directly relevant to United States interests in Hong Kong [and] serve as a basis for Hong Kong’s continued economic prosperity”; and
(D) Hong Kong must remain sufficiently autonomous from the People’s Republic of China to justify a different treatment under a particular law of the United States, or any provision thereof, from that accorded the People’s Republic of China;
(2) to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong, as guaranteed to them by the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong, done at Beijing December 19, 1984 (referred to in this Act as the “Joint Declaration”), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, done at New York December 19, 1966, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, done at Paris December 10, 1948, and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (referred to in this Act as the “Basic Law”);
(3) to urge the Government of the People’s Republic of China to uphold its commitments to Hong Kong, including allowing the people of Hong Kong to rule Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy and without undue interference, and ensuring that Hong Kong voters freely enjoy the right to elect the Chief Executive and all members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council by universal suffrage;
(4) to support the establishment of a genuine democratic option to freely and fairly nominate and elect the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the establishment by 2020 of open and direct democratic elections for all members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council;
(5) to support the robust exercise by residents of Hong Kong of the rights to free speech and the press as guaranteed to them by the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration;
(6) to ensure that all residents of Hong Kong are afforded freedom from arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention, or imprisonment as guaranteed to them by the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration;
(7) to draw international attention to any violations by the Government of the People’s Republic of China of the fundamental rights of residents of Hong Kong and any encroachment upon the autonomy guaranteed to Hong Kong by the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration;
(8) to protect United States citizens and long-term permanent residents living in Hong Kong and those visiting and transiting through Hong Kong; and
(9) to maintain the economic and cultural ties that provide significant benefits to the United States and Hong Kong.
Last Wednesday, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s top leader, announced she’ll remove the unpopular extradition bill—the catalyst for the protests. However, protestors took it as an unserious gesture and resumed demonstrations this past weekend.
State media, which is pro-Chinese and vehemently against Hong Kong independence, issued a threat to the U.S. warning us to stay out of the semi-autonomous island nation.
“Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China — and that is the bottom line no one should challenge, not the demonstrators, not the foreign forces playing their dirty games,” the China Daily said in an editorial.
“The demonstrations in Hong Kong are not about rights or democracy. They are a result of foreign interference. Lest the central government’s restraint be misconstrued as weakness, let it be clear secessionism in any form will be crushed,” it said.
Compared to other protests, Hong Kong demonstrators have been mostly peaceful and pro-American.
Members of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club voiced their concern over increasing violence against journalists:
Over the weekend, the club said it had seen an increasing number of incidents involving police violence against journalists covering protests in Hong Kong, with assaults on journalists becoming more serious and impeding their ability to work. Frontline journalists regularly wear reflective vests and press credentials when covering demonstrations.
The International Federation of Journalists reported more than 30 violent incidents against journalists from 9 June to the end of August, from police, bystanders and even protesters on some occasions.
Police pepper-sprayed a group of reporters after they made a number of arrests on Saturday night, including the journalist Holmes Chan, who was livestreaming the incident for Hong Kong Free Press. Chan said police first pushed the group back and then used pepper spray against them without warning.
It remains to be seen if the U.S. will intervene in Hong Kong in support of these protests. If anything, President Trump should symbolically side with these pro-democracy demonstrators to hit back at China.