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21 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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US Senate passes Hong Kong rights bill, angering China

SOS: Diehards hold out at HK campus as foreign pressure rises
AFP, Washington
US Senate passes Hong Kong rights bill, angering China
Police officers walk next to a police vehicle after a bus believed to be carrying detained protesters arrived at the West Kowloon Law Courts building in Hong Kong yesterday. AFP photo

The US Senate unanimously adopted legislation Tuesday supporting “human rights and democracy” in Hong Kong and threatening to revoke its special economic status, angering China which promptly summoned a US diplomat and threatened countermeasures.

The lawmakers also approved a measure that would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment that have been used by security forces to suppress pro-democracy protests for nearly six months.

Chinese vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu summoned the acting US charge d’affaires, William Klein, to lodge a “strong protest” and demand that the US prevent the bill from becoming law. US ambassador Terry Branstad was out of the country. “Otherwise, the Chinese side will take strong measures to resolutely counter it, and the US side must bear all the consequences,” the statement said.

A US embassy spokesman said Klein “relayed that we are watching the situation in Hong Kong with grave concern” during the foreign ministry meeting.

China had also reacted angrily when the US House of Representatives passed a similar measure last month.

The Senate’s Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the US president to annually review the favorable trade status that Washington grants to Hong Kong.

It also mandates sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials who commit human rights abuses including “extrajudicial rendition.”

The Senate “sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms: We hear you, we continue to stand with you and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.

Passage of the bill marks “an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, Robert Menendez, added that the legislation “makes it clear that the US will stand firmly and unambiguously with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Hong Kong.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the US purpose was to “support the extremists and violent elements against China that are trying to mess up Hong Kong... and realise their sinister plot to hinder China’s development by taking advantage of the Hong Kong issue.”

Another report from Hong Kong adds: Dozens of pro-democracy protesters stood firm within a besieged Hong Kong university yesterday, where an “SOS” sign was laid out as supporters took up calls to distract police surrounding the campus by disrupting city transport.

The four-day standoff between demonstrators and police at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) rippled overseas, with the UN’s human rights office urging a peaceful resolution, while the US senate passed new legislation supporting protesters’ demands.

The epicentre of nearly six months of increasingly savage anti-China protests has shifted to the PolyU campus, a stone’s throw from the city’s harbour, where hardcore protesters have held off riot police with Molotov cocktails, bricks and arrows.

The confrontation has been the most intense and prolonged in nearly six months of unrest that began over a now-shelved bill to allow extraditions to China, which revived fears that Beijing was slicing into the city’s freedoms.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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