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28 Nov, 2019 00:01

Trump backs Hong Kong protesters, signs ‘human rights’ bill… ‘out of respect for President Xi’?

Trump backs Hong Kong protesters, signs ‘human rights’ bill… ‘out of respect for President Xi’?

President Donald Trump has approved legislation backing Hong Kong’s ‘pro-democracy’ protest movement, disregarding Beijing’s repeated warnings for Washington to mind its own business and stop meddling in China's internal affairs.

Dubbed the 'Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,' the bill blazed through both houses of Congress earlier this month with virtually unanimous consent from lawmakers. In addition to threatening sanctions over human rights violations, the law requires the State Department to “certify” once a year whether Hong Kong enjoys sufficient “autonomy,” though exactly how officials will quantify that remains unclear.

Beijing repeatedly warned Washington not to underestimate China’s determination to defend its “sovereignty, security and development interests.”

If the US side insists on going down the wrong path, China will take strong countermeasures.

Also on rt.com Beijing says US interference in Hong Kong unites Chinese people against Washington’s ‘sinister intentions & hegemonic nature’

China insists that the unrest in Hong Kong – a territory recovered from the UK in 1997 after a century of colonial rule – is its internal affair. By the logic of Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and some hawkish US lawmakers, however, their support and promotion of "democracy" overseas is an internal US matter and China’s protests over it amount to unwelcome foreign interference.

Despite harsh condemnations from Beijing, the president said he passed the bills with his Chinese counterpart in mind.

I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong

Trump said the contentious bills are being enacted in the hope that representatives of China and Hong Kong “will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”

Also on rt.com ‘Damages relations & sends wrong signal to protesters’: Hong Kong ‘regrets’ Trump’s meddling in internal affairs

The president also signed a second bill banning exports of crowd control munitions to Hong Kong’s riot police, including rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray. Trump did note that certain provisions of the acts interfered with his power as president to conduct foreign policy, and will be implemented with that in mind, but did not specify which part of the bill conflicted with that authority.

Hong Kong protests began in May over a proposed bill regulating extradition to mainland China, since withdrawn. As demonstrators ramped up their demands, they also became more violent, initially erecting roadblocks and vandalizing subway stations. In recent weeks, masked protesters have pelted police with petrol bombs and set fire to the campus of Hong Kong Polytech University (Poly U), which they occupied for several days before being rounded up and arrested.

Also on rt.com Hong Kong protesters hurl PETROL BOMBS at volunteers trying to clear roadblocks and shoot ARROWS at police

Demonstrators have also roughed up journalists and civilians who sounded like they were from the mainland, and in one particularly gruesome incident on November 11, lit a man on fire outside a subway station. He survived, but with severe injuries.

The presence of US and UK flags at protests has led to China accusing external forces of fueling the unrest. Trump has personally denied any US role, but both parties and the establishment in Washington have repeatedly sought to back the "pro-democracy" demonstrators against Chinese "oppression."

Also on rt.com Man set on fire by Hong Kong protesters ‘can’t recognize his own daughter’ after 10+ days in coma

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