28 November 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The response of the United States government to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has been disappointing up until now. Finally, President Trump has signed legislation that demands an annual review of conditions in Hong Kong in order for the territory to retain its special trading status with the US. The ChiCom government in Beijing called in the US ambassador to yell at him over interference in Chinese internal affairs. One hopes he responded by pointing out the Chinese government signed an international treaty safeguarding Hong Kong's rights and that the current oppression was a violation of that treaty. The response of the people of Hong Kong was to hold a Thanksgiving rally in the city and waving American flags. America benefits mightily when it does the right thing.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 passed both houses of Congress by veto-proof majorities, and President Trump signed it into law yesterday. Julian Ku of Hofstra University called the act "redundant but still worthwhile.
He explained in Lawfare, "The president already possesses the legal authority to execute the sanctions powers granted to him by the HKHRDA. This redundancy does not make the HKHRDA meaningless.... But it does mean we should understand the law not as a grant of authority to the president, but as an effort to ensure the executive branch exercises all of its economic sanctioning powers to support the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. For this reason, the real significance of the HKHRDA is not the granting of legal authority but instead the delivery of a political message. That message is that Congress will keep Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement a central issue in U.S.-China relations no matter what other bilateral issues (such as trade) arise and no matter who prevails in the next presidential eletion."
The ChiCom foreign ministry issued a statement that read in part, "This so-called legislation will only strengthen the resolve of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, and raise awareness of the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S. The U.S. plot is doomed." Red fascists are great at projecting. The fact is that the US is holding China to its promises. The plot emanates from Beijing and is designed to destroy the one-country, two-systems deal it agreed to.
The protesters took a different view. "The rationale for us having this rally is to show our gratitude and thank the U.S Congress and also President Trump for passing the bill," said 23-year-old Sunny Cheung, a member of the student group that lobbied for the legislation, in an interview with Reuters. "We are really grateful about that and we really appreciate the effort made by Americans who support Hong Kong, who stand with Hong Kong, who do not choose to side with Beijing," he said, urging other countries to pass similar legislation.
There will be Chinese counteractions. So be it. The trade negotiations may falter, not that they were really going anywhere anyway. The key is that the US has taken a stand for human rights in Hong Kong, and by extension mainland China.
The future is unwritten, but the Chinese have put down a marker about how things will look if they get to write the rules. Uighurs are in concentration camps. Chinese citizens are denied access to cartoons like "South Park." The use of social media and facial recognition will grow, and the ChiCom government will use them to keep people under the thumb of the Party.
America has its own sins for which to atone, but the world has seen how things operate under rules created by the Americans and its European allies. People are richer and healthier than ever before, and by most measures freer, too.
Hong Kong is on the front line between the two visions of the world. It is clear that the people would like the ChiCom approach to go away.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.