Hong Kong Protesters Rally at US Consulate

Protesters Call For Legislation to Protect the City’s Autonomy

Thousands of protesters rallied at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong calling for President Trump to “liberate” the city. The protesters waved American flags and sang the Star-Spangled Banner.

According to Reuters, after the rally at the U.S. Consulate, protests turned violent. Demonstrators set barricades, started fires, smashed windows and vandalized the train station in the Central District of Hong Kong. Police then fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Last week, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam formally withdrew the extradition bill that sparked the months-long protests. The extradition bill would have allowed fugitives and suspects to be extradited and put on trial in mainland China.

At the U.S. consulate, some protesters were carrying signs that read, “Support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.”

H.R.3289 – Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 was introduced in June by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). This version has no summary yet, but a 2016 version of the bill was introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The basic idea of the bill would be to reaffirm the United States-Hong Kong Act of 1992. The 1992 act was passed to affirm that the U.S. would treat Hong Kong separately from mainland China over matters of trade and economics after the British hand Hong Kong back to the Chinese, which happened in 1997. The bill would also require the Secretary of State to make an annual report on the autonomy of Hong Kong. If Beijing encroaches autonomy, the U.S. will sanction those officials involved.

On Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said legislation supporting the protesters in Hong Kong will be a priority for Congress when they return from recess next week. “We must take action to demonstrate to President Xi that the United States Senate stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong,” Schumer said in a statement.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper urged the Chinese government to exercise caution and show restraint over the protests in Hong Kong.

Since the beginning of the protests, Beijing has accused the U.S. of being involved. Although protestors waving American flags does not prove U.S. government intervention, the U.S. Congress-funded non-profit National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has had a presence in Hong Kong for many years.

In 2018, the NED had programs in Hong Kong titled, “Expanding Worker Rights and Democracy,” “Promoting Engagement of Fundamental Rights,” and “Strengthening Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Protection.”