Washington / Beijing / Hong Kong (dpa) - The adoption of a bill in the US House of Representatives to support democracy and civil rights in Hong Kong has sparked a major upheaval between China and the US.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said "great outrage and determined resistance." The US parliamentarians were accused of "serious interference in internal affairs." With the vote, they openly supported "the anti-Chinese troublemakers in Hong Kong," it said in other statements by Chinese government officials.
The Beijing-China Special Administrative Region's Beijing-loyal government expressed its "regret" over the adoption of the previous day's draft in Washington, as well as another decision to suspend supplies of tear gas and police equipment to Hong Kong protesters. Human rights and freedoms would be protected, it was said. The principle of "one country, two systems", according to which the former British Crown Colony has been governed autonomously since its return to China in 1997, has been successfully implemented.
The US Human Rights and Democracy Bill in Hong Kong requires economic sanctions if Hong Kong's autonomy is undermined. It also aims to see if the People's Republic undermines civil liberties and the rule of law in Hong Kong. An annual review is planned for this. The law also provides for punitive measures against politicians who have violated Hong Kong's freedoms. Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers peacefully demonstrated on Monday evening to accept the project.
The drafts are still in the Senate, but enjoy bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats. In the end, US President Donald Trump would still have to sign the laws. But the first vote in the US Congress triggered violent reactions. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Hong Kong office accused American parliamentarians of "gangster logic and supremacy."
The beginning of the Hong Kong Parliament's first session after the summer break was overshadowed by riots. Pro-Democratic MPs protested in the Legislative Council, calling for "Free Hong Kong - the revolution of our time". They called for an independent investigation of police brutality in the protests that had lasted for five months, impunity for the more than 2,000 arrested and free elections. Some climbed on tables.
An actual planned keynote address by Prime Minister Carrie Lam had to be postponed. A major issue at the beginning of Parliament's new parliamentary session is Lam's recourse to a colonial emergency law, which she imposed a cover-up ban on two weeks ago. The ban should now be submitted to the non-elected Legislative Council, which is largely loyal to Beijing.
By endeavoring to live the almost 100-year-old emergency law, the head of government has exacerbated tensions in Hong Kong. The law of 1922 was last used in riots in 1967. A Hong Kong court on Sunday allowed a judicial review of the constitutionality, which was scheduled for the end of the month. The emergency law gives far-reaching powers and would also allow longer arrests, censorship or the interruption of communication channels.
For months, people in Hong Kong have been demonstrating against their government and the growing influence of the Communist Beijing leadership on the autonomously governed territory. The seven million Hong Kong residents are under China's sovereignty, but unlike the people of the Communist People's Republic, they enjoy more rights such as freedom of expression and assembly, which they now fear.