In an incredibly rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives voted on and passed three separate bills in support of the Hong Kong protesters. After several months without official action, it seems as though the United States government is finally taking a side in the growing conflict.
The vote came as a response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Hong Kong and continued calls for America to intervene on behalf of democracy.
As FreedomWire has reported over the past few months, the anti-China, pro-democracy protests raging in the city-state of Hong Kong started as a citizen demonstration protesting a proposed bill that would allow the Chinese government to extradite lawbreakers to mainland China for trial. The protests quickly grew into a full-on uprising against Chinese control. Although the bill was finally withdrawn and shelved indefinitely at the beginning of last month, the protests continued, growing more violent by the day. Two weeks ago, police opened fire on protesters with live rounds for the first time, critically injuring one man.
However, even as people around the world rally to the protesters’ cause, China maintains its aggressive position and has promised to keep its control of the regions under its thumb by any means necessary.
America Gets Involved
According to reports from the Associated Press, the resolutions of each bill were as follows:
“One of the bills condemns China’s intrusions into Hong Kong’s affairs and supports the right of people to protest. Another requires annual reviews by the U.S. secretary of state of Hong Kong’s special economic and trade status, providing a check on Beijing’s influence over the territory. A third bill would ensure that U.S. weapons are not being used against protesters by police.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the decision, saying “If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on behalf of human rights any place in the world.”
As evidenced by the bills’ overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle, it’s clear that the decision has merit to it. For months now, Hong Kong citizens have been seen waving the American flag and singing the National Anthem, using them as both symbols of freedom from tyranny and a plea for American aid. As the protests have escalated, many Americans—politicians included—have called for the US to intervene, supporting the pro-democratic movement and protecting citizens from possible Chinese military action.
Just last week, President Trump expressed his desire for a “very humane solution” to the conflict, stating that Chinese President Xi “has the ability to do it.”
But, despite the new bills and Trump’s statements, it may not be enough to deter the Chinese government.
Threatening Response From China
In response, on Wednesday afternoon, the Chinese foreign ministry responded with threats of “strong countermeasures.”
Spokesman Geng Shuang told American lawmakers to refrain from meddling in China’s private affairs, warning of “falling off the edge of the cliff” into unspecified retaliation. This, coupled with President Xi Jinping’s threat that “anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” paints a very sinister picture of the lengths to which China is willing to go to maintain control.
The situation in Hong Kong has come to be seen by many as one of the biggest human rights issues on the world stage in modern times. China has a reputation for being one of the worst human rights violators in recent memory. They frequently arrest, torture, and kill dissidents and protesters, then cover it up in an attempt to protect their reputation (the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, for example). Additionally, they have carried out numerous crimes against humanity, including the ongoing mass incarceration of Chinese Muslims which has largely gone unreported.
However, not every entity in the United States shares this viewpoint.
The new bills stand in stark contrast to the actions taken by several American corporations in recent weeks.
The NBA, for example, was quick to bow and scrape before China when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong. In response to China’s threats to cut all ties with the NBA, the organization’s leadership (as well as players like LeBron James) apologized profusely, tacitly endorsing everything China has been doing.
Additionally, Apple shut down an app that helped protestors in Hong Kong track the movements of police forces, enabling the government’s forces to gain an upper hand.
Blizzard Entertainment—one of the world’s biggest gaming companies and a driving force behind the growth of the e-sports league—suspended a player for making pro-Hong Kong statements during a post-game interview.
In all three cases, the common factor is clear: money. No corporation is willing to alienate the Chinese market, even if it means keeping silent as they steamroll people fighting for their freedom.
In response to the NBA’s actions, a group of Congressional representatives issued a statement of condemnation and rebuke. Among the signatories were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex (D-NY) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who are about as different as two people can be. The fact that they managed to actually agree on something shows just how universally hated the NBA’s response was.
Now, with the passing of these three bills, the United States government is demonstrating that it is willing to defend human rights and the cause of democracy, regardless of how massive corporations choose to conduct themselves.
The situation in Hong Kong is far from over, and the problem seems to grow more complicated with every passing day. However, the United States has now taken an official stance on the issue.
China has been put on notice.