Published: Fri, November 29, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Hong Kong protests: Trump signs Human Rights and Democracy Act into law

Hong Kong protests: Trump signs Human Rights and Democracy Act into law

The law requires the State Department to certify, at least annually, that Hong Kong is autonomous enough to justify favourable USA trading terms that have helped it become a world financial centre. It also provides for the imposition of sanctions and travel restrictions on individuals deemed to have committed human rights violations in Hong Kong.

It bans the export of certain non-lethal munitions to Hong Kong police.

"Look, we have to stand with Hong Kong".

Democratic and Republican politicians applauded the signing of the bills.

The market was rife with speculation: health-care shares tumbled in Hong Kong when a document circulating on social media suggested Beijing could add dozens of new drugs to another round of procurement.

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have long urged American lawmakers to approve the legislation.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong stirred support for more rallies over the weekend, as police withdrew on Friday from a university campus which had seen some of the worst clashes with security forces during almost six months of unrest.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 passed both houses of Congress almost unanimously.

"The [annual review] shall assess whether China has eroded Hong Kong's civil liberties and rule of law as protected by Hong Kong's Basic Law".

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Among them was Joshua Wong, the iconic figure from the 2014 Umbrella Movement, who said that the landslide election victory by pro-democracy candidates last Sunday showed that "we [pro-democracy] are the majority".

"The United States is ignoring facts and the real state of affairs".

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng (樂玉成) told US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad that the move constituted "serious interference in China's internal affairs and a serious violation of global law", a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said. "Beating, torturing and jailing of democracy activists is wrong and this historic legislation lets China know that respecting fundamental human rights is paramount".

"I know that many people in Hong Kong are happy that the US Government has passed a new bill", said Figo Chan, a 23-year-old Hong Kong protester who was honoured with the John McCain Prize for Leadership at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada last weekend. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.1% on volume that was 38% higher than the 20-day average.

Protests have been happening there for many months.

Other demonstrations planned over the weekend include a rally by secondary school students, a march to protest against tear gas sprayed near children and a "march of gratitude" where protesters are planning to march to the US consulate. He did signal, he wasn't sure if he's going to sign this, in part, because we are trying to negotiate this big deal on China with trade, he does support the people of Hong Kong.

There was an immediate reaction in Beijing to Trump's signing of the legislation.

Asked what those countermeasures would be, Geng Shuang, spokesman for the ministry simply said: "What is due to come will eventually come".

"If the US takes sanctions against Hong Kong based on those future reviews, China will take countermeasures", he said.

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