Fulfilling the promises of a 1997 treaty agreed to by Hong Kong, the U.S. and Great Britain, President Trump signed legislation backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The treaty promised that the U.S. would protect the democratic rights of Hong Kong citizens for 50 years after the turnover to China of the semi-autonomous former British colony.
The announcement came on the eve of Thanksgiving.
Pro-democracy protesters across Hong Kong cheered the American President and members of Congress for the announcement and for support for the uprising that has crippled Beijing’s efforts to fully bring the nation-state under full communist control.
Trump’s statement was one of the most deftly worded diplomatic of his tenure according to some observers.
Protesters in Hong Kong will hold a celebratory, pro-US rally on Thursday after President Trump signed a law supporting Hong Kong's months-long protest movement https://t.co/kpqCVbcSIu
— CNN (@CNN) November 28, 2019
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all,” he said.
Despite the soft words, the measures will be viewed as a strong statement in Beijing.
Pro-Democracy Protesters March in Support of Trump:
The legislation was backed unanimously in the Senate and by all but one member of the House. It requires the State Department to conduct an annual review of Hong Kong’s autonomy within China for it to retain its favorable trading status.
It also authorizes the use of sanctions against officials engaged in abuses.
The move was welcomed by Sen. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental human rights,” he said.
President Trump has stated he would like to do more in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.