Hong Kong localism and independence

Trump urged to push Beijing on Hong Kong’s autonomy

China specialists in US use report to recommend working with London to help ensure city’s independence under ‘one country, two systems’ formula

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 11:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 9:24am

A group of China specialists in the United States has urged the ­administration of President ­Donald Trump to work with ­London to ensure ­Beijing respects the autonomy of Hong Kong.

In a policy recommendation report for Trump released on Wednesday, they said the US should “publicly call attention to the concerning trend of encroachment by Beijing on Hong Kong’s autonomy”. However, it also said the US must respect China’s ­sovereignty over the city.

The report is the outcome of 18 months of research by the Asia Society and the University of California, San Diego. The report’s writers include Orville Schell and former assistant secretary of state Kurt Campbell.

The report urged the administration not to abandon the “one-China policy”, and to reaffirm US commitments to Asia.

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Hong Kong “seems to be ­assuming an even more volatile and dynamic role”, it said.

The report highlighted eight Hong Kong grievances with the central government, ranging from the disappearance of booksellers to media censorship and the banning of elected members of the Legislative Council.

The report said such grievances created uncertainty over Hong Kong’s ability to remain an international financial centre, and that Beijing’s intervention in local affairs could lead to more public protests in the city.

The report said the US should reiterate the importance it placed on the faithful implementation of the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration. Those documents guaranteed Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” within the “one country, two systems” formula, it said.

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“The US Congress should continue its tradition of issuing annual reports concerning political developments in Hong Kong and its changing relationship with Beijing,” said the report, adding that the Trump administration should consult closely with London on all Hong Kong-related issues.

The US Congress resumed issuing its annual reports on Hong Kong’s political development in the aftermath of the constitutional reform package being rejected by the city legislature in mid-2015. This followed a 10-year suspension in issuing the reports.

United States Congress set to introduce Hong Kong human rights act ‘in coming days’

Marco Rubio, co-chair of a bipartisan US commission on China, saidlast month that he would reintroduce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The bill was proposed after the disappearance of five Causeway Bay booksellers in 2015, who later turned up in custody on the mainland. It calls for punitive measures against any officials in Hong Kong or the mainland responsible for suppressing freedoms in the city.

Beijing has previously called on foreign nations not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official mainland think tank, said it was no surprise that US critics were getting harsher over Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong.

“If Washington takes concrete action, things will change drastically and Beijing will [take] action in revenge,” he said.

Lau warned that Beijing would inevitably tighten its grip on Hong Kong if the US tried to support opposition forces there, such as by imposing sanctions on its export of high-tech products to the city.