The Post reports on Sunday’s 2-million-strong protest in Hong Kong:
Organizers estimated the turnout Sunday at nearly 2 million participants, in a territory of some 7.4 million — making plain the growing rupture between Hong Kong’s government, heavily influenced by Beijing authorities, and its people.
The march capped a dramatic week of protests in varying numbers across the global financial hub. Demonstrators forced police to open six-lane roads and took over streets that were not authorized for their rally.
The huge outpouring delivered yet more embarrassment for Hong Kong’s leader, who finds herself increasingly isolated in the city despite her efforts to contain the growing anger.
This is extraordinary, not the least because the equivalent number of protesters in the United States would be nearly 90 million. The outpouring of anger at the government and determination to resist another encroachment on Hong Kong’s local self-rule came after Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, agreed to suspend the law. Protesters say the law needs to be revoked entirely, not held over their heads while the government regroups and passions cool.
The fervent defense of democracy in the face of a local government fronting for the Communist, surveillance-state mainland is breathtaking:
Sunday’s crowd, no less energized than in previous demonstrations, included the elderly, people with disabilities, children with their families, business executives, social workers and students, all demanding the permanent withdrawal of the extradition bill. The protesters, who waited for hours under a blazing sun to begin their march, chanted for Lam to step down and for Hong Kong to “add oil” — a Cantonese cheer that means “keep going.” Banners called for Hong Kong’s independence.
At one point, members of the crowd started singing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” — the call to action from the musical “Les Misérables.”
In the United States, a bipartisan group of senators including Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; James E. Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.); Angus King (I-Maine); Josh Hawley (R-Mo.); Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.); and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) last week reintroduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, to “reaffirm U.S. commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law at a time when Hong Kong’s autonomy is under assault by interference from the Chinese government and Communist Party.” (A companion bill was introduced in the House.) The bill would:
Require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to Hong Kong by the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
Require the President to identify persons responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including those complicit in the forced removal of individuals exercising internationally recognized rights to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry to the United States.
Require the President to issue a strategy to protect U.S. citizens and businesses from the implications of a revised Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, including by determining whether to revise the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition agreement and the State Department’s travel advisory for Hong Kong.
Require the Secretary of Commerce to issue an annual report assessing whether the Government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing both U.S. export regulations regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and U.N. sanctions, particularly regarding Iran and North Korea.
Make clear that visa applicants shall not be denied visas on the basis of the applicant’s arrest, detention or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities related to pro-democracy advocacy, human rights, or the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Freedom House applauded their efforts in a written statement condemning “the unprecedented degree of police violence deployed against unarmed protesters in Hong Kong in recent days.” The human rights groups urged China to withdraw the extradition law. Freedom House’s statement concluded, “Given Hong Kong officials’ intransigence in pushing forward with the amendments, despite public opposition and concerns voiced by the business and legal communities, we urge the US Congress to swiftly pass the act. Doing so will send a clear signal that further erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and human rights protections will result in concrete consequences for its economy, the territory’s relations with the United States, and Hong Kong and Chinese officials who suppress basic freedoms.”
Meanwhile, we hear virtually nothing from President Trump on the subject. All he could muster last week was a comment expressing hope the protesters would “work it out” — with their oppressors (as if this were a spat between roommates). He didn’t bother to defend the demands for democratic freedoms nor warn the Communist Chinese regime. Perhaps he sees “very fine” people — pro-democracy protesters and a pliant government bending to Beijing’s will — on both sides.
Trump’s affinity for despots and disdain for democracy even at home are by now well known. And so, during the largest pro-democracy protests in the world since the Iranian Green Movement and Arab Spring, the purported leader of the free world spends his time giving North Korea’s dictator reassurance about spying and trying to disabuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of the notion that we are engaged in counterintelligence operations on Russia’s power grid. “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. The impression Trump gives is of a man intimidated or fooled by strongmen and unmoved by people to protect basic civil liberties.
Plenty of his energy and time goes into ingratiating himself with oppressive leaders, none to those fighting for basic human rights. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday assured the country that Trump would bring up the protests with China’s President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit — on June 28. His lack of urgency and unwillingness to speak publicly speak volumes about the utter lack of leadership and abandonment of U.S. values in this administration. He cannot be bothered with millions of Hong Kong democracy activists, or with holding Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the brutal murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or with the genocide perpetrated by the Saudis in Yemen, or with Russia’s kleptocracy and brutal repression of dissent. For goodness' sake, he cannot even muster sympathy for children ripped from their parents’ arms in the United States under his inhumane zero-tolerance policy.
Trump despicably provides aid and comfort not to free people seeking human rights and political freedom but to their oppressors who’ve figured out how to flatter the narcissistic president. In doing so, he looks weak and brings dishonor to the United States. Dissidents and oppressed people the world over have felt inspired and supported by the United States — until now. Congress must take up the slack for a president who exhibits anti-democratic instincts and sickening affection for the world’s most brutal despots.