In-Depth: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced this resolution to express the House’s support for the people of Hong Kong in their demonstration efforts:
“The millions of people who have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to demand their democratic rights have been an inspiration to us all. This resolution puts the House of Representatives on record as supporting the goals and aspirations of the peaceful protestors in Hong Kong. The world is watching.”
In a letter to his Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this resolution, Rep. Sherman argued that Congress has a responsibility to support Hong Kongers:
“Support for democratization and human rights are fundamental principles of U.S. foreign policy. The United States Congress has a responsibility to support the residents of Hong Kong, condemn the use of force against the peaceful demonstrations, denounce efforts by the Hong Kong and Chinese Governments to characterize the demonstrations as ‘riots’ and blame the United States for involvement in the political instability they alone created, and share the concerns of the people of Hong Kong regarding China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) adds:
“With authoritarianism and instances of human rights abuses on the rise across the globe, our friends in Hong Kong need our support at this critical juncture. Core democratic values and the fundamental freedoms that are enshrined in a free and just society are at stake and the future of an autonomous Hong Kong hangs in the balance. The people of Hong Kong are rightly protesting government-sanctioned brutalities and violations of democracy. We stand with them in their fight for basic democratic rights.”
Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), Ranking Member of the Asia Subcommittee, contends that this resolution is key to a strong U.S.-Hong Kong relationship:
“The current situation in Hong Kong has shed light on the abuses by the Chinese Communist Party in the autonomous, self-governing region of Hong Kong. China has a track record of refusing to honor previous agreements, and this case is no different. The international community must continue to support the people of Hong Kong’s right to protest and show China that this behavior is unacceptable. This bi-partisan, multi-faceted resolution is an important step in supporting a strong U.S.-Hong Kong relationship and recognizing that the human rights of the people of Hong Kong are of great importance to the United States.”
In a July 2019 op-ed in the South China Morning Post, Ronny K. W. Tong, QC, SC, JP, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association and convenor of the Path of Democracy, argued that the Hong Kong government has already met protesters’ demands halfway. He urged both sides to reconcile, rather than dig in:
“The truth of the matter is that, of the five demands, the government has responded to most, and has in fact taken a step back or two on some. Viewed in this light, it is fair to say the government has reached out a hand of conciliation. But reconciliation can only be achieved by both sides. What more is there to be gained in continuing the current discord? We are already standing on the edge of the abyss of chaos. Our overall interest is, by no exaggeration, hanging in the balance. Is it not time to call a halt to things and give peace a chance? We all make mistakes and the important thing is that a lesson has been learnt. It is time to heal the wound and look forward. After all, reconciliation is not a sin.”
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has defended the Hong Kong police force and her government’s response to the protests:
“The Hong Kong police force is a highly professional and civilized force. I would challenge every politician to ask themselves if the large extent of violence acts and all those petrol bombs and arson and really deadly attacks on policeman happened in their own country, what would they do?”
Tang Ping-keung, Hong Kong’s deputy commissioner of police, expressed similar sentiments. He also argued that the violence against police has reached a critical level:
“Violence against police has reached a life-threatening level. They are not protesters, they are rioters and criminals. Whatever cause they are fighting for it never justifies such violence.”
On Sunday, October 13, 2019, while protesters in Hong Kong returned to the streets for a 19th consecutive weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that any attempt to split China will “end in crushed bodies and shattered bones.” Although Xi didn’t explicitly name Hong Kong in his comments, his references to "separatists" and "external forces" echoed previous language used by Beijing when talking about protests in Hong Kong.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that Xi said during a state visit to Nepal, “Anyone attempting separatist activities in any part of China will be crushed and any external force backing such attempts will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming.”
This resolution unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of 21 bipartisan cosponsors, including 13 Democrats and eight Republicans.
Of Note: Hong Kong was guaranteed 50 years of freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula when Britain returned it to China in 1997. Last year, a failed attempt to create a China extradition bill, which could have sent Hong Kongers to trial in Communist Party-controlled courts, was seen as the latest attempt to reduce those freedoms. This ignited what has now become months of protests, with some protests attracting millions into the streets.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / angusho)