Beijing seethes as House approves Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

Domestic News

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which would put the city’s special trading relationship with the United States under annual review, was unanimously passed by the House on Tuesday.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that China reacted angrily. Reports the Washington Post:

Earlier in the day, China voiced indignation at what it characterized as U.S. interference, with the official Xinhua News Agency branding the House’s move “arrogant and dangerous.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China would take strong measures to safeguard its interests. He said the bill demonstrated a “naked double standard, which fully exposes the extreme hypocrisy of some people in the U.S. on the issues of human rights and democracy and their sinister intentions to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development.”

Yang Guang, a spokesman for China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said the bill “openly supports the opposition and radical forces in Hong Kong.”

The bill still needs approval from the Senate and White House to become law, but per the South China Morning Post, support for it “jumped in the US Senate on Tuesday.”

Various Chinese officials condemned the American move as “phony concern” from Washington, and said that it glorifies “the reckless acts of arson, store vandalism and violently assaulting police officers.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Gěng Shuǎng 耿爽 expressed “strong indignation” and promised that “China will definitely take strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.” He declined to offer details, saying, “Regarding the specific measures, please follow up on that.”

Back in Hong Kong, “the leader of a pro-democracy group responsible for some of the largest peaceful protest marches in Hong Kong was attacked on Wednesday, four days before another planned mass rally,” reports the South China Morning Post.

Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit [岑子杰 Cén Zijié], convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, was set upon by at least four non-ethnic Chinese assailants on Arran Street in Mong Kok at 7.40pm, a police source said.

The attack was the second against Sham in less than two months.

The Civil Human Rights Front said Sham had been smashed over the head with hammers and spanners but was conscious when sent to Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei. He was understood to be in stable condition.

Around the time Sham was being attacked, Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) was “forced to suspend her annual address after being heckled,” reports the BBC.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted the Legislative Council session by shouting and projecting slogans behind her.

After a first interruption, the session resumed only to be interrupted again. It was then suspended — and Ms Lam delivered the address by video instead. It means the extradition bill — the trigger for months of protests — could not be withdrawn formally.

The bill was suspended in July, but Wednesday’s meeting was the first time the Legislative Council (Legco) had resumed since it was stormed by protesters in July, and was the first opportunity to withdraw the bill altogether.

But as Chief Executive Lam was about to begin her speech, opposition lawmakers began shouting and climbing on tables. They also projected the words “Five demands — not one less” on the wall behind her. Since the protests began, they have widened from rallies against the bill to five key demands — including universal suffrage.

Photo: Lawmakers wearing Xi Jinping masks and holding posters of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam with bloody hands jeer as she attempts to deliver her annual policy address, at the Legislative Council on October 16, 2019. Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon.