Updated Nov 27, 2019

Trump signs bill expressing support for Hong Kong protesters

Photo: Xinhua/Li Xueren and Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Wednesday, reaffirming U.S. support for the city's autonomy after months of pro-democracy protests.

Why it matters: The bill, which was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House, serves as a major rebuke of China at a time when Washington and Beijing are engaged in critical trade talks. China has warned that it will take retaliatory measures if the bill becomes law.

Between the lines: Even if Trump had declined to sign the bill, it would still likely have the two-thirds support in Congress necessary to override a veto. In a statement acknowledging the signing, Trump noted that certain aspects of the bill would "interfere" with his "constitutional authority to state the foreign policy of the United States."

"I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all."
— President Trump

The big picture: The majority of Hong Kong's districts flipped in favor of pro-democracy candidates this week amid record voter turnout and registration. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government would "listen" and "reflect" in light of the results, which follow months of protests that left many demonstrators and police injured.

"I applaud President Trump for signing this critical legislation into law. The U.S. now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs. Following last weekend’s historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong U.S. support for Hong Kongers’ long-cherished freedoms."
— Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement Wednesday

Go deeper: Pro-democracy parties triumph in key Hong Kong elections

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House passes bill expressing support for Hong Kong protestors, rebuking China

Pro-democracy protesters gather for a rally in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images.

The House voted 417-1 on Wednesday evening in favor of the Senate's unanimously-passed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, sending the bill to President Trump's desk. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) was the sole "no" vote.

The big picture: The bill reaffirms the U.S.' commitment to supporting democracy and human rights in Hong Kong as it relates to city's autonomy. The legislation comes amid months of violent clashes between police and protestors in Hong Kong, and could set up a confrontation between the U.S. and China in the midst of Trump's high-stakes trade war. The White House has not yet commented on whether Trump intends to sign the bill.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 20, 2019

Senate unanimously passes bill reaffirming support for Hong Kong autonomy

Thousands of people hold an unsanctioned march through the streets of Hong Kong. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/Getty Images

The Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Tuesday to reaffirm American support for the city's autonomy.

The big picture: The bill asserts the U.S.' commitment to "democracy, human rights, and the rule of law" as it relates to Hong Kong's autonomy, according to bill sponsor Sen. Marco Rubio's description. The legislation comes amid months of violent clashes between police and protestors in Hong Kong.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019

Finger-pointing over misjudging Hong Kong

Anti-government protesters shine phone lights at police as they chant slogans in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Top Chinese leaders, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, "have been managing their response" to the violent protests in Hong Kong from a villa in Shenzhen instead of using the formal bureaucratic system that's been in place for two decades, Reuters scoops.

Why it matters: Under normal circumstances, Beijing and Hong Kong communicate through the Liaison Office, "housed in a Hong Kong skyscraper stacked with surveillance cameras, ringed by steel barricades," Reuters writes. This change shows the central government isn't happy with how the Liaison Office has been handling the protests.

Go deeperArrowNov 26, 2019