Wednesday, November 27th, the Trump administration passed two new bills that aim to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy and rights.
While these bills have a positive impact on Hong Kong, there are provisions that support the region’s protesters and some that could hurt the economies of the US, China, and Hong Kong as well.
One of the bills will prohibit the sale of munitions to Hong Kong including, but not limited to, rubber bullets and tear gas. The other bill involves an annual review of the city’s autonomy from mainland China.
In the first bill — Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 — Hong Kong’s so-called “special status” could end up being revoked. Eventually, this would affect their economic prospects and hurt the businesses operating there.
Since June, large-scale demonstrations were seen in Hong Kong, resulting in violent clashes between the police and protesters. The protests started when a law that allows extradition to mainland China was proposed. Later on, the demonstrations were organized to demand universal suffrage and greater democracy.
To protect the city, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 requires the US state to conduct an annual review of whether Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous” from China. In addition, the American president can deny US entry and freeze the assets of those people violating human rights in Hong Kong. The bill also supports pro-democracy protesters as their US visas won’t be denied despite being arrested or detained due to demonstrations.
Hong Kong was given a self-governing power, various freedoms, and limited election rights. And as a special administrative region of China, the city operates under the “one country, two systems” structure. This unique system has played a vital role in achieving Hong Kong’s current status — a global financial and business center.
When Hong Kong loses such special treatment, it could potentially harm the city’s economy and the consequences could be felt globally.
Even though Hong Kong’s economic growth didn’t contribute that much to China for the past few years, the city remains a financial center for mainland businesses.
Meanwhile, there’s a tight financial and trade relationship between Hong Kong and the US. According to the State Department, over a thousand American firms are operating in the city and almost all major US financial firms likewise have a presence there. The department added that Hong Kong is also the major destination for US legal and accounting services, making them one of the State’s top trading partners.