President Donald Trump signaled his support for the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Wednesday as he signed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019” into law.
“Today, I have signed into law S. 1838, the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019” (the “Act”),” Trump said in a statement. “The Act reaffirms and amends the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, specifies United States policy towards Hong Kong, and directs assessment of the political developments in Hong Kong.”
The law allows U.S. officials to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who are accused of committing human rights abuses in Hong Kong, Politico reported, adding that the law requires “the secretary of State to certify at least once a year whether Hong Kong continues to have enough control over its own affairs to warrant maintaining its special trade status under U.S. law.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) praised Trump for signing the bill into law, writing in a statement, “I applaud President Trump for signing this critical legislation into law. The U.S. now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Following last weekend’s historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong U.S. support for Hong Kongers’ long-cherished freedoms.”
The move by President Trump is one of the few welcomed with bi-partisan support but even Nancy Pelosi praised the move.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong cheered President Trump and members of Congress for passing two laws that support the months-long uprising that has crippled the city while Beijing's anger over the legislation was on full display, calling the move a "nakedly hegemonic act" before summoning the top American diplomat in the country in protest.
The statement did little to calm Beijing. The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement that the bill will only "strengthen the resolve of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, and raise the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S."
The statement continued, "The US side ignored facts, turned black to white, and blatantly gave encouragement to violent criminals who smashed and burned, harmed innocent city residents, trampled on the rule of law and endangered social order."