Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language “Commentaries on International Affairs.”
U.S. congressional committees on Wednesday passed the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, bringing it a step closer to becoming law. The act requires the United States government to assess the level of freedom in Hong Kong in order to decide whether Washington will continue to grant the city special trading privileges under the 1992 United States-Hong Kong Policy Act. This legislation shows that Washington is intent on persisting in the role of self-appointed global policeman.
Over the 22 years since Hong Kong’s return to China, the city has maintained its status as a free port and a separate customs territory with the support of the central government. It has built on its relationships with other countries under the name of “Hong Kong, China”, and been an active participant in international economic, communications, tourism, cultural, and sporting organizations. It’s clear to anyone looking at the situation through fair eyes that the city enjoys a high degree of autonomy.
The string of violent incidents that have rocked Hong Kong over the past four months has put a serious strain on the city’s social cohesion and economic health. Rioters have disregarded the rule of law, not to mention the ordinary constraints of civil society, and directly challenged the “one country, two systems” principle that has been successfully implemented since 1997.
Some U.S. lawmakers have decided to turn a blind eye to the damage the rioters are doing to the city, and have chosen instead to praise their violence. These same lawmakers have been quick to criticize the Hong Kong police, claiming that they’re oppressing the city’s residents as they struggle in extraordinary circumstances to restore law and order.
Hong Kong is a major trading partner of the United States. Over 1,300 American companies, including Bank of America, Citi Group, and JP Morgan have operations in Hong Kong, and some 85,000 U.S. nationals live in the city. By providing support to lawbreakers with the passing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, Washington is not only harming the interests of the people of Hong Kong, but also the interests of a large number of American people.
The 40 years of diplomatic relations between China and the United States have relied on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty. China has never meddled in the internal affairs of the United States, and Beijing hopes that it will get the same treatment from Washington. The maintenance of Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability is in the interests of all countries, including the United States. Washington should put an end to the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, or risk a souring of its ties with China.