The US Senate on Tuesday unanimously adopted a text demanding democracy and respect for human rights in Hong Kong, which has caused Beijing's anger and led the Chinese government to convene a senior US diplomatic official.
The senators also approved a measure that would prohibit the sale to the Hong Kong police of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment intended to repress protesters.
Beijing has warned that it will take retaliatory measures if the text is finally adopted. According to China, the goal of the United States is "to support extremists and violent anti-Chinese elements who are trying to sow chaos in Hong Kong (…) to fulfill their sinister objective of hindering the development of China by taking advantage of the Hong Kong issue, ”Chinese diplomacy spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
Beijing has called on Wednesday the temporary business manager of the US embassy William Klein to "solemnly protest" against this text. "Any attempt to undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and hinder China's development is bound to fail," said Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu, quoted by Chinese diplomacy.
«We hear you, we are at your side»
China had already expressed its "extreme outrage" after the adoption in the lower house of the US Congress of a similar text.
The two bills are a bit different, so the two houses have to harmonize them before a final vote so that they can be later enacted by President Donald Trump.
«Today the US Senate sent a clear message to the Hong Kong people fighting for the freedoms to which they have long been attached: we hear them, we are by their side and we will not remain unreacted while Beijing undermines their autonomy », declared Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Hong Kong and Washington have a special economic statute that allows the Chinese territory to be exempt from the restrictions that apply to mainland China. The text approved by the Senate would make it a condition to keep this special statute in force for the State Department to monitor every year that the Hong Kong authorities respect the rights.
This measure would involve in particular an evaluation on «Autonomy in decision making of his government regarding human rights, respect for laws and demands for extradition, universal suffrage, independence of justice, the functions of the police and security forces, export control and Respect for sanctions ».
The text also provides sanctions against any "foreign person" considered responsible for an "extrajudicial extradition" or that violates human rights in Hong Kong.
The protests continue
The protest movement began in Hong Kong in June following the rejection of a bill to authorize extraditions to mainland China, with increasingly violent demonstrations.
Dozens of young anti-government activists remain on Wednesday locked for the fourth consecutive day inside a university campus in Hong Kong, with the police closing them under the threat that they will be arrested when they leave.
Between Monday night and Wednesday morning, some 800 people stranded at the Polytechnic University left the campus in the coastal district of Hung Hom in East Kowloon. Among them, 300 are under 18.
It is not clear exactly how many are inside, but the Hong Kong Commercial Radio calculated the number at around 100.
It is believed that some 500 people who have left the campus have been arrested, although police have not yet announced the exact number of detainees. In Hong Kong, the riots carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
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