Following a massive march in Hong Kong where protesters called on the U.S. Congress to pass a human rights bill, the Hong Kong government responded by saying no to “foreign” interference.
“The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government expresses regret over the re-introduction of the Act and reiterates that foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR,” the Hong Kong government stated in a press release responding to Sept. 8 march.
Meanwhile, Edward Yau Tang-wah, the city’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, told Hong Kong media that he believes the U.S. bill to amend the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 is an “unnecessary move.” He questioned if there was any “ulterior motives” behind the bill.
The bipartisan bill, first introduced in June, would require the U.S. Secretary of State to annually certify that Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous” from China to merit special treatment from the United States that is afforded to it by the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act.
Under the Act, the United States agreed to treat Hong Kong as a separate entity to the mainland in economic and trade matters even after the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997. As a result, Hong Kong goods entering the U.S. market are currently not penalized by the tariffs now slapped on Chinese goods.
A number of U.S. officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and author of the bill Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), have expressed their commitment to advancing the amendments when Congress returns to work this week from its summer recess.
Currently, the bill proposes economic sanctions and penalties on persons who are found to be responsible for actions that “suppress basic freedoms in Hong Kong.”
Yau added that the city’s “highly autonomous economic system” was mandated by its constitution, the Basic Law, and such autonomy had nothing to do with the law of any other country.
He concluded by saying that the United States and Hong Kong should respect each other, since the two sides “are on equal footing” as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) September 8, 2019
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the cochair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and one of the members of Congress calling for the passage of the bill, said on Twitter last month that the proposed amendments to the arrangement between Hong Kong and the United States was not simply China’s “internal matter.”
And given their history of repression,Chinese troops massed on border is cause for grave concern
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 13, 2019
“China’s escalating threats against HongKong is not an ‘internal matter,’” he wrote. “It’s a blatant violation of commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy Beijing made in an international treaty.”
Tens of thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets to petition the U.S. Congress to quickly pass the bill on Sept. 8, which they feel would secure their basic rights which are under siege by the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party’s encroachment.
Since June, millions of Hongkongers have been protesting against a government extradition bill that they fear would put anyone in Hong Kong at risk of being transferred to China to be put on trial in Chinese courts—notorious for being a political tool of the ruling Chinese Communist Party to silence critics and punish dissidents.
Though the bill was formally withdrawn by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Sept. 4 after almost 3 months of unrest, the protests in Hong Kong have continued to call on the city government to meet their other demands, which include universal suffrage and an independent commission to investigate police violence against protesters.
The protesters marched on Sunday from Chater Garden in Central to Lower Albert Road, where they handed a petition letter to a representative at the U.S. Consulate.
Hong Kong singer and actress Deanie Ip was among the march participants. She expressed hope that the U.S. government would help Hong Kong, reported the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times.
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times labelled protesters taking part in the Sept. 8 march as “radicals” in an opinion article published on Sept. 9, comparing them to “a flock of chickens seeking weasels as bodyguards.”
The article then lambasted U.S. lawmakers, saying that a “chaotic” Hong Kong would be more “suitable for them to put on a show.”
U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) voiced his support for the protesters via Twitter on Sept. 8, saying, “The people of Hong Kong have been clear in their demands and their voices are being heard.
“The U.S. stands with you in your fight for justice and human rights!” he added.
Steve Yates, former deputy national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney, urged Congress to pass the bill in a tweet on Sept. 8.
— Steve Yates (葉望輝) (@YatesDCIA) September 8, 2019