HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government has warned foreign legislatures against interfering in the city after protesters marched on the US consulate on Sunday (Sep 8) to urge Congress to pass a Bill on human rights in the city.
Protesters set up barricades, smashed windows, started street fires and vandalised an MTR station on Sunday after thousands crowded outside the US Consulate to show their support for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
The Act supports the “people of Hong Kong in their effort to preserve human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong”, US representative Jim McGovern had said when reintroducing the Bill in June.
In a statement on Monday, the Hong Kong government said: “In response to protesters' march to the United States Consulate General Hong Kong yesterday appealing for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by members of the US Congress, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government expresses regret over the reintroduction of the Act and reiterates that foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR.”
The government also condemned the actions of the “radical protesters”, adding that several MTR stations had to be closed on Sunday to protect “the safety of passengers, MTR staff members and the facilities”.
It comes as Chinese state media reported on Monday that Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China and that any form of secessionism “will be crushed”.
US BILL REINTRODUCED
When the US Bill was reintroduced in June, the controversial extradition Bill in Hong Kong – which would have allowed criminals to be sent to mainland China to stand trial – was still on the cards.
Mr McGovern said the legislation would place the US “firmly on the side of human rights and democracy”.
“If the extradition Bill moves forward and Hong Kongs autonomy and democratic institutions continue to erode due to interference from the Chinese government, the Congress has no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong can receive preferential economic and trade benefits under US law,” he had said in June.
On Thursday, US Senate Democrats leader Chuck Schumer said legislation addressing China's actions in Hong Kong will be among the top priorities pushed by the Democrats when Congress returns to work after a recess.
Last week, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said the extradition Bill would be formally withdrawn.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong government said: “The Chief Executive announced on Sep 4 that the government would formally withdraw the Bill.
“Before that, the government had also clearly indicated on many occasions that all work in relation to the legislative amendment had completely stopped.”
He added that law enforcement agencies outside of Hong Kong, including those from the mainland and overseas, “do not have the authority” to enforce laws within the jurisdiction of Hong Kong.
While some American politicians on both sides of the aisle have expressed support for the democratic goals of the protesters, the Trump administration has maintained a more hands-off approach while it fights a trade war with China.
Trump has called for a peaceful resolution to the political crisis and urged China against escalating with a violent crackdown.