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Politicians told HK not a chip for bargaining

2019-08-21 10:34:00China Daily

Chinese officials and experts have urged politicians in the United States to stop using the situation in Hong Kong as a bargaining chip for negotiations or as leverage for fueling competition with Beijing.

Senior politicians such as US Vice-President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have spoken out on or pushed legislation concerning the recent violent protests in the city.

Pence angered China on Monday by telling the Detroit Economic Club that "for the United States to make a deal with China", Beijing needs to "respect the integrity of Hong Kong's laws".

"Our administration will continue to urge Beijing to act in a humanitarian manner," Pence added.

In response, the Foreign Ministry's Commissioner's Office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said on Tuesday that China resolutely opposes any country attempting to "take Hong Kong's stability and prosperity as well as the well-being of more than 7 million Hong Kong residents as a bargaining chip".

"Do not daydream about China making a deal using its territorial sovereignty and national reunification," an unnamed spokesperson said in a statement, calling for a halt to intervention in China's domestic affairs, including Hong Kong affairs.

On Aug 6, Pelosi said in a written statement that "the extraordinary outpouring of courage from the people of Hong Kong stands in stark contrast to a cowardly government", and she reiterated her call for suspending "future sales of munitions and crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong police force".

US Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that "China's escalating threats against Hong Kong is not an 'internal matter'" and is "a blatant violation of commitment to Hong Kong's autonomy".

You Wenze, spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, said in a statement on Saturday that recent illegal activities in Hong Kong, especially extreme violence, blatantly violated the rule of law and order in Hong Kong.

However, You said, some US lawmakers are "whitewashing the violent crimes as a struggle for human rights and freedom", distorting strict law enforcement by Hong Kong police and their efforts to fight crime.

The spokesperson also noted the proposed Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was reintroduced in June by US lawmakers including US Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat, and Rubio, a Republican.

The proposed legislation calls for making it clear that applicants "shall not be denied visas on the basis of the applicant's arrest (or) detention ... as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities" in Hong Kong.

Such comments and legislative advocacy by US lawmakers "constituted a gross violation of the rule of law spirit, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China's internal affairs", You said.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said there is a "growing bipartisan consensus in the US about containing China on issues regarding Hong Kong", and that comments by Pelosi, a Democrat, and Rubio are typical examples in this regard.

"The current policymaking atmosphere in the US decides that Hong Kong may be used as leverage and be hyped for settling other issues with China," Li said.

The professor also said some political forces in the US are using various issues to push China and the US closer to confrontation.

However, he added that given China's competency in handling China-US relations, "the ties will not necessarily end up in a doomsday scenario as expected by those bearing malign intents".

Wang Peng, an associate research fellow on international relations studies at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China, said there is a good possibility the US Congress will pass the legislation regarding Hong Kong, since the competition side of China-US ties has been played up recently by the US.

Some provisions in the proposed legislation constitute "long-arm jurisdiction", Wang said, though "such a bill eventually will not work in coercing China's peaceful rise".

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