Providence provides the best explanation when analyzing the odyssey of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong would have remained a poor cluster of fishing villages had it not been for the stain of the Opium War and the insightful actions of a clear-thinking British Officer, Captain Charles Elliot, who seized Hong Kong for Great Britain in 1842.
Elliot, personally opposed to the opium trade and advocated a conciliatory policy toward China, was recalled in disgrace by then-foreign minister Lord Palmerston. However, without the Opium War and Elliot’s actions, Hong Kong today would not pose as the dagger point to China’s corrupt communist dictatorship.
Last June, this column focused on the phenomena that it was Hong Kong’s Christian churches that kept the protests focused, civil, and moral. We should be reminded that it was China that violated its own promise that it would refrain from interfering in Hong Kong’s domestic and legal affairs for 50 years, by respecting Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
It is therefore not surprising that President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The bill requires the U.S. government to impose sanctions against Chinese and HK officials that are responsible for human rights abuses in HK. It also requires yearly reports to re-assess the situation and directs various departments to determine whether political developments in HK justify changing HK’s unique treatment under U.S. Law.
The protestors know full well that they need to keep the momentum for democracy going or face the same fate as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protestors ending in bullets and show trials. Although the puppet rump-democracy government of Hong Kong argued they did not need American support, protestors by the thousands waved American flags and held up photos of President Trump with the body of Rambo. Just as in the period of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt, and Secretary of State John Hay, America is on the side of the Chinese people, not the corrupt government or pernicious foreign powers seeking to exploit the situation.
From America’s decision not to participate in the carving up of China, our Open Door policy at the turn of the 20th century, America’s covert entry into the Second World War on the side of China with groups like the Flying Tigers, to today, American values stand at the forefront of the battle against tyranny and the corrupting power of communism.
Many analysts assumed that President Trump would not sign the bill, led by legislators like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. The media assumed he did not want to upset ongoing trade talks with China. However, given the fact that local elections in Hong Kong were dominated by anti-government (read anti-communist party of China) by a whopping 87%, it is clear that the people of Hong Kong want reform and independence.
The Chinese communist party’s response was a typical reiteration of their tired old mantra that any attempt by the United States to speak about democratic values is inherently an intrusion in China’s internal affairs. In a sense, Beijing is right, democracy and Christianity pose a much greater threat to their rule than American hard power, they are correct to be alarmed, dismayed, and perhaps shocked.
President Trump’s decision to sign the Hong Kong human rights bill is not only a victory for him in a time of chaos but a victory for the American people and their values.
This piece originally ran on Newsmax.com on 27 December 2019.