Trump Signs Bills Backing Pro-democracy Protesters in Hong Kong

Vehicles move through the Cross Harbor Tunnel which has reopened in Hong Kong on Wednesday Nov. 27 2019. The major tunnel has reopened in Hong Kon

The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" that Trump signed requires the State Department to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify the favourable U.S. trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a world financial centre.

Trump had little choice but to sign the bill: The House cleared it 417-1 on November 20 after the Senate passed it without opposition, majorities that would allow lawmakers to override any veto by the president.

In October, Trump said he expected to quickly dive into a second phase of talks once "phase one" had been completed, focussing on harder issues such as Chinese demands that USA companies transfer their technology to Chinese rivals.

Recently pro-democracy candidates won nearly 90% of the seats in the local elections in Hong Kong, which means strong support for the anti-government protests that have shaken this Chinese territory for more than five months.

A man wearing a mask of Chinese President Xi Jinping holds up his hand to represent the five demands wanted from the government as protests continue in Central district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.

The United States and China are close to agreement on the first phase of a trade deal, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, after top negotiators from the two countries spoke by telephone and agreed to keep working on remaining issues.

At the heart of matter is Beijing's promise to allow Hong Kong a "high degree of autonomy" for 50 years when it regained sovereignty over the city in 1997, a pledge that has formed the basis of the territory's special status under USA law. Among the key drivers of the protests in Hong Kong is the widespread perception that Beijing has been steadily encroaching on that promised autonomy.

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Trump was not specifically asked about congressional legislation to back protesters in Hong Kong that is sitting on his desk after being passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives last week.

The Chinese government last week criticized the measure as one that "neglects facts and truth" and "blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China's other internal affairs".

Earlier in the day, Beijing threatened it would have to take serious countermeasures because of the US' new law, which constituted "unconcealed hegemonic behaviour" and meddling in China's domestic affairs.

The ammunition bill was passed unanimously, while the Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie was the only member of the House of Representatives who opposed the Human Rights Bill.

"We're with them", Trump said of the protesters who delivered a landslide victory for pro-democracy candidates in local elections and have battled police for weeks in street demonstrations. For instance, the city isn't subject to the current USA tariffs on Chinese imports.

By the logic of some hawkish United States lawmakers, however, their support and promotion of "democracy" overseas is an internal U.S. matter and China's protests over it amount to unwelcome foreign interference. This is the second time China has summoned a USA official on the Hong Kong issue in less than a week. I think that President Xi can make that happen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said it "finally sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of Hong Kong: We are with you".

On Nov. 20, right after the Act passed through Congress, seven Chinese regime agencies came out blasting us lawmakers for siding with the protesters.

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