Hong Kong opinion leaders on Wednesday denounced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed by US lawmakers, calling it an attempt to “blackmail” the SAR by those who are motivated by “blind prejudice” and don’t wish the city well.
The response came after the bill was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. If approved by the Senate — the upper chamber of the United States Congress — and signed by US President Donald Trump, the bill will allow the US to evaluate Hong Kong’s autonomy annually and take the results into consideration in deciding whether or not to maintain trade and economic relations with the city.
It’s a crude, politically motivated attempt to blackmail Hong Kong, instigated by people who do not understand Hong Kong and do not wish it well
Grenville Cross, columnist and former director of public prosecutions of Hong Kong
“It’s a crude, politically motivated attempt to blackmail Hong Kong, instigated by people who do not understand Hong Kong and do not wish it well,” said Grenville Cross, columnist and former director of public prosecutions of Hong Kong.
Recent visits to Hong Kong by some US senators have shown that those behind this bill are motivated by blind prejudice, and are woefully ignorant of how "one country, two systems" works, of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, and of the rights and freedoms which people enjoy under the Basic Law, he said.
US Republican senator Ted Cruz, who made a brief visit to the SAR during the weekend, had insisted he had never heard, or seen evidence of rioting, vandalism and mob attacks during the more than four months of civil unrest in Hong Kong.
“The bill is a highly retrograde step which will result in a lose-lose situation, and could well backfire on its makers,” Cross reckoned.
He warned that all the 1,400 members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong stand to suffer if the US-Hong Kong relationship is “poisoned by reckless politicians bent on confrontation with China”.
“If the US thinks it can push Hong Kong around because it’s small, it should think again because we are made of sterner stuff and do not buckle easily,” Cross said, adding that we must all hope that reason will ultimately prevail and Trump will reconsider and decline to sign the bill into law.
Mark Pinkstone, columnist and former chief information officer with the Hong Kong government, slammed the US allegations concerning human rights and democracy in China and Hong Kong as unacceptable.
“If the problems Hong Kong faces today occurred in the US, there would be death, gunfire and the National Guard would take over, and they had the audacity to say that China is interfering in Hong Kong and the actions by the (Hong Kong) police are over the top,” he said.
Pinkstone reckoned that the US is using Hong Kong as a “pawn” to contain China which is emerging as a superpower and which the US would not like to see.
Moreover, the passage of the bill is giving full support to rioters in Hong Kong, he added.
Allan Zeman, chairman of Hong Kong-based Lan Kwai Fong Group, said the passage of the bill has sent a “negative and wrong message” about Hong Kong democracy to the rest of the world.
Other countries which don’t understand what’s really happening in Hong Kong might think the city’s human rights and democracy are being clamped down on, he said. “But, it’s not true.”
Chris Lonsdale, columnist and educator from New Zealand who has been living in Hong Kong since 1984, said the bill, to some extent, supports or encourages the ongoing violence in the city.
“The basic problem (with the bill) is that the US will allow protesters to travel to the US if the US deems they’re non-violent. This means a lot of violent protesters in Hong Kong will probably get a free pass,” he explained.
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