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Senate passes Hong Kong rights bill — angering China

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The US Senate unanimously adopted legislation Tuesday supporting “human rights and democracy” in Hong Kong and threatening to revoke its special economic status, angering China which promptly summoned a US diplomat and threatened countermeasures.

The lawmakers also approved a measure that would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment that have been used by security forces to suppress pro-democracy protests for nearly six months.

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Chinese vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu summoned the acting US charge d’affaires, William Klein, to lodge a “strong protest” and demand that the US prevent the bill from becoming law. US ambassador Terry Branstad was out of the country.

“Otherwise, the Chinese side will take strong measures to resolutely counter it, and the US side must bear all the consequences,” the statement said.

China had also reacted angrily when the US House of Representatives passed a similar measure last month.

The Senate’s Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the US president to annually review the favorable trade status that Washington grants to Hong Kong.

It also mandates sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials who commit human rights abuses including “extrajudicial rendition.”

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The Senate “sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms: We hear you, we continue to stand with you and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.

Passage of the bill marks “an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, Robert Menendez, added that the legislation “makes it clear that the US will stand firmly and unambiguously with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Hong Kong.”

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the US purpose was to “support the extremists and violent elements against China that are trying to mess up Hong Kong… and realise their sinister plot to hinder China’s development by taking advantage of the Hong Kong issue.”

The pro-democracy movement was ignited in June when millions took to streets in opposition to a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions from Hong Kong to the mainland.

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The protests and resulting crackdowns have turned parts of Hong Kong into violent battlegrounds for weeks.

On Tuesday protesters occupying a university defied warnings to surrender, as skirmishes between police and demonstrators continued.

The Senate bill updates the original Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.

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Senator Ben Cardin noted how Hong Kong has enjoyed a special economic status for years, one that relied on authorities “protecting democracy and human rights” in the territory.

“That was the commitment. And if they don’t comply with that, the special status should no longer be available,” Cardin said.

The House and Senate will now harmonize the texts into a single bill to pass Congress and go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.


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BUSTED: National Archives caught doctoring exhibit to remove criticism of President Trump from women

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The National Archives were caught editing an artifact from the Trump administration to remove criticism of the president, according to a bombshell new report in The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported on a "large color photograph" at the National Archives exhibit marking the centennial of women's suffrage.

"The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement. But a closer look reveals a different story," the newspaper noted.

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Dershowitz is running a ‘bizarro defense’ of Trump: Harvard Law colleague says ‘Alan is just completely wacko’

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Two of the most famous names associated with Harvard Law School had competing appearances on MSNBC on Friday.

It began when Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus, was interviewed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber about his new role officially representing President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.

Dershowitz claimed that neither abuse of power nor obstruction of Congress count as "high crimes" under the constitution.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has also been associated with Harvard Law for five decades, was asked about Dershowitz's argument during an interview with Chris Hayes.

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Why was Lev Parnas wearing a ‘Presidential Service Badge’ awarded to troops who serve in the White House?

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Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman posted a fascinating update about a photo of impeachment figure Lev Parnas.

The photo shows Igor Fruman -- who, like Parnas, is under federal indictment -- sitting closely next to Rudy Giuliani and Parnas.

Haber said a source informed her that in the picture, Parnas can be seen wearing a "Presidential Service Badge," linking to the Wikipedia entry on the pin.

"The Presidential Service Badge (PSB) is an identification badge of the United States Armed Forces which is awarded to members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other members of the Uniformed Services, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States," Wikipedia explained.

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