Friday, November 15, 2019

China Commands Congress to Drop Bill It Doesn't Like

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Thursday commanded the U.S. Congress to withdraw the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, denouncing the bill as interfering in China’s internal sovereign affairs.

State-run news service China Dailyquoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responding to a media event on the pending legislation held by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and attended by “Hong Kong separatists” Joshua Wong and Denise Ho. ChinaDaily said:

Pelosi and other US politicians “failed to distinguish right from wrong” despite China repeatedly expressing its solemn stance over US meddling in Hong Kong affairs, Geng said.

They were “brutally interfering in China’s internal affairs” by threatening to advance the bill, contacting Hong Kong separatists and making irresponsible remarks over Hong Kong affairs, Geng added. He reiterated that no foreign forces are allowed to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which belong purely to China’s internal affairs.

“We strongly urge the US to… stop its interference of any kind in Hong Kong affairs, stop advancing the bill, stop endorsing Hong Kong’s violent and radical forces and separatists, and stop abetting words and deeds that harm the prosperity of the special administrative region,” Geng said.

The Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong also slammed the US politicians’ move, which is at odds with their “claimed support for ‘one country, two systems'” and has “fully exposed their hidden political agenda”.

The Hong Kong office of the Foreign Ministry claimed that the “overwhelming majority of people in Hong Kong” want to end the “chaos” of the Hong Kong demonstrations and restore order.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act acknowledges that “Hong Kong is part of China but has a largely separate legal and economic system.” The idea behind the bill is to make Hong Kong’s special trade status contingent on mainland China’s continued respect for the island’s autonomy:

The President shall provide Congress an assessment as to whether to withdraw from the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty, and what actions are needed to protect U.S. citizens and national security interests, if Hong Kong (1) amends its laws to allow the rendition of individuals to countries that lack defendants’ rights protections, or (2) passes a national security law.

The State Department shall allow otherwise qualified Hong Kong residents to obtain visas to work or study in the United States, even if the applicant had been arrested for participating in certain nonviolent protests supporting human rights or the rule of law.

The President shall report to Congress a list of individuals responsible for abducting and torturing people for exercising internationally recognized human rights in Hong Kong. The bill bars such individuals from entering the United States and imposes sanctions on them.

At the news conference criticized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Speaker Pelosi said both sides of the aisle in Congress “enthusiastically support this legislation” and stand with “all those who are fighting for a peaceful, hopeful future.”

“This is a battle between democracy and dictatorship,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) added.

“The United States must make clear to China that its interference in Hong Kong’s affairs will have consequences,” urged Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who originally introduced the bill.

The Hong Kong bill reportedly has strong support in both houses of Congress but has been received more cautiously by the Trump administration, which has declared support for the right of Hong Kong citizens to protest but wants the U.S. response to be part of the overall trade dispute with China.

The “Hong Kong separatists” castigated by the Chinese Foreign Ministry for speaking to the U.S. Congress included student leader Joshua Wong and actress Denise Ho. Wong warned Congress that Beijing is “grabbing all the economic benefit of Hong Kong’s standing in the world while eroding our freedom.”

“This is not a plea for so-called foreign interference. This is a plea for democracy. This is a plea for the freedom to choose,” said Ho.

John Hayward

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