The Chinese State Council, foreign ministry, National People’s Congress as well as Beijing’s embassy in Washington and liaison office in Hong Kong all launched a chorus of protests shortly after the United States Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, vowing “retaliation” should US President Donald Trump sign the bill into law.
A spokesman for the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said yesterday that the biggest threat the protest-hit Hong Kong had been facing since June was widespread unrest and violence, not an issue of human rights or democracy.
He lashed out at the US Congress, saying it was openly “aiding and abetting” rioters and anarchists in the territory. A foreign affairs committee under the National People’s Congress also said the passage of the bill showed the “malicious intent” of the US Congress to try to upset Beijing and wreak further havoc in the city.
It was understood that the commissioner’s office of the Chinese foreign ministry in Hong Kong also lodged separate representations to Hanscom Smith, the US Consul General to the city, but just as American diplomats had previously told local media, the consulate and the US State Department could not interfere with bills tabled, deliberated and passed by lawmakers.
China also expressed “strong indignation” in October when the US House of Representatives passed a similar move, after some prominent activists from Hong Kong including Joshua Wong beseeched congressmen to back the act in hearings on the wellbeing of the city’s rights and freedoms.
Beijing’s fear is that the bill may trigger a steady stream of similar decisions and sanctions by other Western powers because there have also been calls in the parliaments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and others to table their respective acts to help safeguard democracy and freedoms in Hong Kong. These countries either have historical bonds or sizeable expat communities and a business presence in the territory.
The passage by both the lower and upper chambers of the US Congress shows that support cuts across party lines, and the act, after the Senate and House work out the differences in their respective versions, will be formally handed over to Trump, who would normally have about 10 days to decide whether to endorse or veto it.