As Riots Continue, U.S. Lawmakers Posture on Hong Kong
“I can assure you that if China comes down hard on the protestors that there will be action in Congress,” warned Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Tuesday.
Any violent intervention from the mainland would be “completely unacceptable,” added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
When Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, the US agreed to give Hong Kong special treatment thanks to the ‘one country, two systems’ policy that allowed the territory to maintain a capitalist system.
“If China interferes with the autonomy of Hong Kong, then it does affect our agreements in regard to Hong Kong as far as the trade zone is concerned,” explained Cardin.
In June, a senior Administration official suggested Washington might even consider sanctions on China if the mainland uses violence against the protestors in Hong Kong.
“The people of Hong Kong are making clear that they will not tolerate repression, and their movement affirms: the power is with the people. They deserve our support and the support of the world,” tweeted Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Lawmakers’ concerns follow ten weeks of civil unrest in Hong Kong, including the repeated use of tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians.
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam, accused protestors of pushing the situation onto a “path of no return” after riots forced the international airport to cancel hundreds of flights.
In the meantime, Beijing has started to send troops to the border and to describe the protest movement as “terrorism.” Some Chinese officials have even accused the United States government of making the situation worse.
“By neglecting and distorting the truth, they whitewashed violent crimes as a struggle for human rights and freedom, and deliberately misinterpreted the work of Hong Kong police as violent repression when the police were only enforcing the law, fighting crimes, and upholding social order,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying.
Hua personally criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has made several public comments in support of the protestors.
“The people of Hong Kong are trying to preserve the promise of One Country – Two Systems,” tweeted Pelosi on Monday. “If we don’t speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out elsewhere.”
Pelosi has also urged the White House to stop selling munitions to Hong Kong and has urged Lam to meet with the protestors to “listen and act on their legitimate grievances.”
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the criticism even further, describing the protest as “increasingly brutal police tactics and pro-mainland vigilantes…drawing blood in an effort to intimidate Hong Kongers back into submission.”
“If a government cannot respect the basic rights of people it claims as its own citizens, why on Earth would it be trusted to respect the rights and interests of its neighbors, its trading partners, or the companies that invest in its economy?” he continued. “As we all know, the people of Hong Kong have been carrying this banner for decades. And I’m proud to say that here in the United States, we’ve been marching alongside them the entire way.”
In China’s opinion, US lawmakers have no right to make these sort of statements.
“We solely remind you this plain truth: Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs, and you are neither entitled nor qualified to wantonly comment on them,” warned Hua. “Mind your own business and stay out of Hong Kong affairs.”
Author’s Note: As I wrote last week, all signs point to a Chinese takeover of Hong Kong that nobody (including the US) will step in to prevent.
Editor’s Note: Trump knows there is nothing he can do to help these people, and no economic or military advantage to be gained by interposing the U.S. in China. Pending brutality notwithstanding, this would be the equivalent of China sending troops to calm Baltimore riots in the Obama era.