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US meddling in Hong Kong condones violent crime: Editorial

China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-28 17:14


As expected, the US president signed into law legislation in support of those trying to create chaos in Hong Kong. His administration had already politicized the unrest in the special administrative region as part of its efforts to contain China and put pressure on Beijing, so it would have been a surprise if he had chosen to forego the opportunity to ratchet up the “maximum pressure” he so loves which was handed to him on a plate by Congress.

But even if the White House had not given the two bills his endorsement, they would automatically have become law on Dec 3, as they were unanimously passed by the Senate and approved by all but one lawmaker in the House of Representatives.

The so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires the State Department to certify, at least annually, that the city has enough autonomy to justify favorable US trading policies, and threatens sanctions on anyone the US decides is guilty of human rights violations in the city. That this has been generally taken to mean Chinese officials highlights the prejudiced perspective behind the bills.

The other law bans exports of crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong police, including tear gas, pepper spray, stun guns and rubber bullets.

Traffic is seen from a broken window inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 28, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

One wonders if those that have so wholeheartedly given their support to the bills are aware that similarities have been noticed between what is happening on the streets of Hong Kong and the Brownshirt intimidation on the streets of Berlin in the late 1920s.

The US leader said that he signed the bills in the hope that they will promote an amicable settling of differences, but the very timing of his signing the bills into law, deliberate or not, is likely to torpedo that hope.

The rioting — as he himself has described what is happening in Hong Kong — had markedly ebbed in the week leading up to the District Council election on the weekend, which itself was carried out in a peaceful and orderly way, but the patronage of the US is sure to encourage the ringleaders behind the mayhem in Hong Kong to renew and intensify their campaign of intimidating street thuggery.

And although the White House can still block the bills’ provisions on national security and national interest grounds, as they contain strong waivers allowing it to do so, they are useful new weapons in Washington’s arsenal to try to tame Beijing so they are sure to be resorted to whenever it suits Washington’s purpose.

Given this, it is no surprise that the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR strongly criticized the US move on Thursday, saying it condones violent crime and is aimed at damaging Hong Kong’s image and economy.

The SAR government also denounced the move, saying it was “unreasonable meddling” that will not help to ease the crisis.

But of course, until the crisis creates blowback for the US administration from the 85,000 or so US citizens that live in Hong Kong and the more than 1,300 US companies operating there, an easing of the crisis is just what Washington doesn’t want.

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