Over the September 7th-8th weekend two things became apparent during the Hong Kong protests.
The first one is, judging by the released videos of various protesters vandalizing windows and trying to block roads and public transport stations, the Hong Kong police have adjusted and cannot be specifically called brutal in their preemptive positions.
There are much smaller numbers of people trying to block and vandalize the stations, as well, which leads to the notion that the protests are, at least partially, losing steam.
The other takeaway is that the most avid protesters appear to be those calling for US President Donald Trump to “liberate” Hong Kong, waving around US flags, which is perfectly in line with every accusation that Chinese state media and Foreign Ministry have pointed towards the US.
The US Congress is mulling whether to approve a bill to support Hong Kong’s protesters.
The bill in question is a bi-partisan bill proposed by US Senators Marco Rubio (Republican) and Ben Cardin (Democrat). The Hong Kong bill aims to reaffirm the US commitment to human rights, democracy, and rule of law. It was introduced on June 13th.
If it is passed, it would require the US to:
- Perform an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong is autonomous enough to justify its continued enjoyment of special status granted under the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act, which gives the city preferential trade and economic benefits;
- Freeze the assets of—and bar US entry to—officials who are found to be complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including the rendition of individuals to mainland China;
- Perform an annual assessment of whether Hong Kong is adequately enforcing US export regulations, as well as US and UN sanctions;
- Waive visa denials for individuals who have been arrested as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities related democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
US President Donald Trump initially called the protests “riots” and said that it was an internal issue for Beijing, but has since tied any conclusion to the US-China Trade War to Beijing giving in to protester demands.
HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam advise against doing so, and that it would mean Washington is interfering in the city’s internal affairs, as well as China’s internal affairs.
She expressed “deep regret” over the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” which US Congress intended to enact, saying that, “Any form of interference from foreign congresses is extremely inappropriate.”
Geng Shuang, spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also urged the US to “immediately stop pushing Hong Kong-related legislation, cease interfering in Hong Kong affairs at once.”
“The future of Hong Kong must and can only be determined by all Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots… Any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs, including Hong Kong affairs, is doomed to fail,” said Geng.
Since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and a high degree of autonomy in strict accordance with the HKSAR Basic Law, and the “one country, two systems” principle has been fully and successfully implemented, a spokesman of the HKSAR government said.
“Human rights and freedom in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation. The HKSAR government attaches great importance to them and is determined to safeguard them,” the spokesman stressed.
In an overview of Chinese state media reports, the SCMP mentioned the Global Times and China Daily, which both published articles warning the protesters not to test the patience of the central government.
The Global Times reported that “extreme demonstrators” were undergoing a “fit of hysteria, announcing that should their demands not be met, they would rather destroy everything.”
“If the U.S. passes the bill to interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, it would not be for the sake of the city, but rather to turn the financial hub into a card Washington can use to increase pressure on Beijing. The U.S. will only decide its policy toward Hong Kong based on American interests,” the article said.
“If the situation in Hong Kong gets out of control, leading to subversive disorder and humanitarian disaster among society, Beijing will definitely take action in accordance with the Basic Law,” it said.
China Daily directly warned protesters of testing Beijing’s patience.
“They have already challenged the bottom line of ‘one country, two systems’ by seeking U.S. help to achieve their nefarious goal of ‘Hong Kong independence’,” it said.
“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.”
A spokesman for the Hong Kong government said foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of Hong Kong.
“It is very much in Hong Kong’s own interest to maintain our autonomy to safeguard our interests and advantages under the one country, two systems principle,” the spokesman said.
Finally, Xinhua also accused the radical protesters for being “selfish” and presenting their interests as those of the whole.
“Astonishingly, there are still people in Hong Kong society who are exceptionally tolerant towards violence and refuse to cut ties with the violent protesters,” it said.
“In reality, this kind of mentality fueled the aggressiveness of those mobs, and gave them a false feeling that the whole society would support or accept their so-called ‘resistance’ and continue to live in a self-beautifying illusion. For the silent majority who love Hong Kong, it’s time to stand up and loudly say no to this violence.”
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