Chinese Army Threatens Intervention to End Hong Kong Protests
Should the U.S. warn China against a military intervention in Hong Kong?
by Countable | 8.2.19
As Hong Kong braces for what will be its ninth straight weekend of mass protests against efforts by China to undermine its autonomy, the Chinese military signaled that it is prepared to deploy troops to quell the unrest.
The Hong Kong Garrison of the People’s Liberation Army released a three-minute video this week showing Chinese troops firing guns & rocket launchers, using explosives, and erecting barricades. This comes after pro-Beijing officials in Hong Kong and PLA leaders condemned the protesters for endangering public safety and said PLA units could be deployed if Hong Kong’s leaders request it, prompting concerns about a Tiananmen Square-like massacre.
The largely peaceful protests began as a reaction to an extradition bill that would’ve sent criminal suspects from Hong Kong to stand trial in the communist legal system of mainland China, which the protesters viewed as an infringement of the “one country, two systems” policy agreed to when the United Kingdom turned Hong Kong over to communist China in 1997. Under the Joint Declaration agreed to by the two governments, Hong Kong would continue to practice a democratic, capitalist system of government under common law for at least 50 years (through 2047).
After as many as two million of Hong Kong’s seven million residents took to the streets in protest, the city’s pro-China chief executive withdrew the bill. Since then the protests have been met with increasing force by police, leading to accusations of excessive force and bolder displays of defiance by protesters ― such as taking control of the Hong Kong Legislative Council building, spray-painting over Hong Kong’s Chinese regional emblem and hanging Hong Kong’s colonial era flag in the chamber as a symbol of political freedom and rule of law. Protesters have also faced beatings from white-clad, masked gangs of men alleged to be members of criminal gangs.
How is the U.S. responding?
The Trump administration has offered a mixed response to the threats of military intervention by China in the midst of trying to negotiate a resolution to the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said claims by China that the U.S. is spurring the unrest in Hong Kong were “ludicrous” and that the U.S. has told China to “do the right thing” and “we hope that the protests will remain peaceful.” President Donald Trump offered the following statement when asked about a potential intervention by the Chinese army:
“Well, something is probably happening with Hong Kong, because, when you look at, you know, what’s going on, they’ve had riots for a long period of time. And I don’t know what China’s attitude is. Somebody said that at some point they’re going to want to stop that. But that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China. They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice.”
In Congress, a bipartisan bill known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (H.R. 3289), introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), would require federal agencies to certify that Hong Kong remains autonomous before approving its preferred trade status, in addition to sanctioning those involved with extraditing people to mainland China and developing a strategy to protect American citizens and businesses from the legal change. It was developed by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which is chaired by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Another bill sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MA) known as the Hong Kong Policy Re-evaluation Act (S. 1824) would require regular reports about members of the Chinese government involved with the extradition or coercive rendition of persons from Hong Kong to mainland China that could inform decisions about sanctions. It would also require reports about efforts by China to use Hong Kong to circumvent export controls and carry out espionage.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Studio Incendo via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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