The House of Representatives of the United States Congress on Tuesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and two other pieces of related legislation despite strong objections by US businesses, which could be the main victims if the Senate passes the act as well. The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China has expressed strong objections to these acts and certainly will not be “pressured” or frightened into submission. However, in spite of Beijing’s disapproval, the democracy act will have no serious impact on China, for whom it is “business as usual”, including its sovereign rule over Hong Kong, but probably not so for thousands of US companies and a great many Americans living and working in Hong Kong.
Many Americans as well as Hong Kong residents know the act, like the tariff hikes, cannot do much to China, but they have hurt many US businesses already. These tactics will all fail completely
The act was introduced earlier this year by a bipartisan panel of US lawmakers known for their confrontational attitude toward China in recent years, allegedly at repeated requests of some leading separatists and opposition lobbyists from Hong Kong and their supporters around the world. Despite the fancy labels of human rights and democracy in its title, the act has been widely viewed as just another tactic by Washington to further intimidate Beijing — along with tariff hikes. Needless to say, the PRC is prepared to retaliate in ways it deems appropriate to safeguard its sovereignty, national security and development interests, including the prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Given the mostly symbolic value of this legislation, it cannot and will not change Hong Kong’s constitutional realities, or brighten the prospects of the separatist conspiracy in Hong Kong for that matter. Its sponsors and supporters insist the act, technically a supplement to the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act (1992), is designed to make Beijing respect human rights and democracy in Hong Kong by threatening Beijing and the HKSAR government with a list of “punishments”. The problem is the excuses they cited to justify this act are all based on lies told by those separatists and lobbyists, who follow Washington’s instructions instead of Hong Kong society’s wishes.
Let’s not forget that members of the public still don’t know for sure who orchestrated and conducted the ongoing illegal campaign of violence and destruction, which has continued for over four months in Hong Kong despite growing and widespread condemnation.
It doesn’t matter, at this point, if the US legislators know the facts or not, because they are clearly advancing their own agenda, which is not about human rights or democracy in Hong Kong — now or ever. That is why Hong Kong has already suffered tremendous economic losses and widespread emotional distress at the hands of followers of these separatists and opposition lobbyists before a few US legislators presented the act to Congress. They are seemingly oblivious to what has been happening in Hong Kong for months. They have somehow convinced some Western mainstream (social) media to forgo journalistic principles and even basic human decency in a bid to keep the truth from the public at home with heavily filtered and sometimes fabricated “news reports” about Hong Kong.
Washington is unlikely to use Hong Kong’s troubles and the act getting House approval as reasons for the latest progress in bilateral trade talks, but it cannot stop people from linking such moves to any concession China seems to be making. Many Americans as well as Hong Kong residents know the act, like the tariff hikes, cannot do much to China, but they have hurt many US businesses already. These tactics will all fail completely.
The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.
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