Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, many draped in American flags and singing the Star Spangled Banner, held a Thanksgiving rally to convey their appreciation to U.S. President Donald Trump for signing two bills supporting their cause.
“The rationale for us having this rally is to show our gratitude and thank the U.S Congress and also President Trump for passing the bill,” student Sunny Cheung, 23, told Reuters.
“We are really grateful about that and we really appreciate the effort made by Americans who support Hong Kong, who stand with Hong Kong, who do not choose to side with Beijing.”
Prominent democracy activists Joshua Wong and Denise Ho addressed the rally, thanking Trump and Hong Kong’s frontline protesters for the passage of the bill. Crowds sang the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” as thousands waved their phones like torches.
China, meanwhile, was furious.
The communist country’s Foreign Ministry called the new U.S. laws a “naked hegemonic action” and summoned its U.S. ambassador.
“The U.S. side ignored facts, turned black to white, and blatantly gave encouragement to violent criminals who smashed and burned, harmed innocent city residents, trampled on the rule of law and endangered social order,” said the ministry.
China is considering barring the drafters of the legislation, whose U.S. Senate sponsor is Florida Republican Marco Rubio, from entering mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Macau, Hu Xijin, the editor of China’s propaganda outlet Global Times, said on Twitter.
The first bill Trump signed calls for sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses. It also requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.
The second bill prohibits the export to Hong Kong police of certain nonlethal munitions, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannons, stun guns, and tasers.
Some in the corporate media had raised doubts last week on whether Trump would sign the legislation after the president told Fox News that “we have to stand with Hong Kong, but I’m also standing with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy … I’d like to see them work it out, OK?”
“But,” Trump concluded, “I stand with Hong Kong. I stand with freedom.”
Sen. Jim Risch, Idaho Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the bills are “an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental human rights.”
Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, who sponsored the House human rights bill, said Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping “should understand that the U.S. is not kidding about human rights. Beating, torturing and jailing of democracy activists is wrong and this historic legislation lets China know that respecting fundamental human rights is paramount.”