Aug 19, 2019

Pence suggests Hong Kong clampdown could prevent China trade deal

Trucks and armoured personnel vehicles mass across the border from Hong Kong, in Shenzhen. Photo: Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the U.S. would not make a deal to end its trade dispute with China if Beijing fails to "honor its commitments" to Hong Kong, Reuters reports.

The big picture: The remark comes a day after President Trump said it would "be very hard to deal if they do violence [in Hong Kong]. ... I mean if it's another Tiananmen Square, I think it's a very hard thing to do." Trump's economic advisers had previously insisted they were treating the trade dispute as a separate issue from other concerns, like human rights.

From Pence's remarks:

"For the United States to make a deal with China, Beijing needs to honor its commitments, including the commitment China made in 1984 to respect the integrity of Hong Kong's laws through the Sino-British Joint Declaration."

Between the lines: The agreement Pence references specified that Hong Kong would have its own judicial system and a high degree of autonomy from mainland China for at least 50 years after being handed from the U.K. back to China in 1997. The ongoing protests began over fears that autonomy was eroding, and they have led to fears of an impending crackdown by China.

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Hong Kong #MeToo rally against police held as Chinese troops cause unease

Hong Kongers wave their phones during a #MeToo rally against police sexual harassment Thusday. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Thousands of people rallied in Hong Kong's streets Thursday against alleged sexual assaults by police on pro-democracy protesters, as images of the Chinese military moving into the city raised fears of a Beijing crackdown, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: What began 12 weeks ago as a rally against a bill proposing to extradite Hong Kongers to mainland China has become a massive anti-government protest to defend the high degree of autonomy residents have had since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. Clashes between police and protesters have become increasingly violent.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 29, 2019

Hong Kong official makes "elements of terror" claim amid city-wide strikes

Students take part in a school boycott rally at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

A senior Hong Kong official claimed "elements of terror" had been seen among pro-democracy protesters, as thousands of high school students joined workers in a city-wide strike amid tight security Monday, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Per the NYT, the comments by John Lee, Hong Kong’s secretary for security, mark the first time a territory official has used rhetoric akin to China’s propaganda machine — which has compared the protesters to terrorists on several occasions. Hong Kongers have enjoyed a high degree of autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, and protesters are concerned there may be a crackdown by Chinese authorities.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 2, 2019

U.S. flag-waving Hong Kongers urge Trump to "liberate" city

Protesters wave American flags as they march to the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong on Thursday. Photo: Vivek PrakashAFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters marching to the U.S. Consulate Sunday sang the U.S. national anthem and called on President Trump to "liberate" the Chinese-controlled territory as police looked on, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: This is the latest in a series of weeks-long demonstrations that have plunged the Asian financial hub into its worst crisis in decades. The protests show no sign of abating, despite Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam saying on Wednesday that she was formally withdrawing a bill that would have seen citizens extradited to mainland China — a key demand of protesters.

Go deeperArrowSep 8, 2019