Why Congress Should Pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

In an editorial published the day after the Fourth of July, we praised President Donald Trump for striking to the heart of the matter regarding Hong Kong’s summer of mass protests. “Well, they’re looking for democracy,” the president said, “And I think most people want democracy. Unfortunately, some governments don’t want democracy. But that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about democracy.”Beijing called the president’s statement “gross interference in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.” We called it “one of his finer moments.” Seven weeks later, with People’s Republic of China troops massed just outside Hong Kong and the city’s widespread protests showing no signs of abating, what’s needed from what we once called “the leader of the Free World” is leadership that matches the moral, economic, and national-security stakes. To his credit, even while tweets on other topics draw fire at home, Trump has suggested that Chinese President Xi Jinping hold face-to-face talks with the leaders of the protest movement, and called on him to find a “humanitarian” resolution to the crisis. He’s even backed away from the tenets of his “America First” foreign and economic policies and made it clear that it would be “much harder” for the U.S. to end its trade dispute and sign a deal with China if President Xi “did something violent” in Hong Kong.The president’s statements, along with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, are moves in the right direction. Recently introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) the Act states that “the human rights of the people of Hong Kong are of great importance to the United States and are directly relevant to United States interests in Hong Kong [and] serve as a basis for Hong Kong’s continued economic prosperity.”  Continue reading...

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