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Hong Kong protest leader calls on Trump to add ‘human rights clause’ to China trade talks

Hong Kong protest leader calls on Trump to add ‘human rights clause’ to China trade talks
A Hong Kong protest figurehead has called on Washington to make the Hong Kong unrest a part of trade negotiations with Beijing, suggesting the US use ‘human rights’ as a bargaining chip in the stalled talks.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, a prominent figure in the ongoing anti-Beijing protests, has been busy touring the West in a bid to persuade foreign nations to meddle in the month-long standoff. On Friday, Wong touched down in New York and wasted no time in making his case, suggesting the Trump administration use the Hong Kong turmoil as leverage in the ongoing trade dispute with China.

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Wong argued that Washington should “add a human rights clause in the trade negotiations and put Hong Kong protests under the agenda” of the talks.

Wong has rallied behind a 2015 US bill, reintroduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio in June, that envisages sanctions for Chinese officials responsible for “suppressing” basic freedoms. If the bill, known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, is passed, the US secretary of state would need to certify to Congress every year that Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous” from mainland China. 

The 22-year-old activist is becoming a sort of a celebrity in the West, having rubbed shoulders with top officials like German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and fellow “revolutionaries,” among them the chairman of the controversial White Helmets – a self-styled civil rescue group heavily suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda.

Wong’s meeting with Maas in Berlin on Monday has drawn a stark rebuke from China, which summoned a German envoy over the meeting on Wednesday.

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Even before going on his publicity tour, Wong had raised suspicions about his ties to the US after photos of him meeting with a political unit chief of the US consulate general in Hong Kong went viral.

While China has repeatedly urged Washington to stay clear of the Hong Kong issue, accusing US lawmakers and officials of “hegemonic thinking” for openly siding with the demonstrators, Hong Kong protesters have been appealing to the US to come and “liberate” them. In a rally on Sunday, thousands of Hong Kong protesters waving flags and playing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ on their phones marched to the US Consulate in Hong Kong asking President Donald Trump to “please liberate Hong Kong.”

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