U.S. took the right course of action, said Mr. Lee Cheuk-yan. Will Europe follow suit?
by Marco Respinti
“It’s a very important decision. Let me be very frank. I am not pro-Trump. Nonetheless, this law fights antidemocratic tyranny, and we should all honestly acknowledge President Trump for it.” The law is the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (HKHRDA) that Trump signed on November 27. Mr. Lee Cheuk-yan judges it a great victory for the Hong Kong pan-democratic forces and the protesters in the streets. Mr. Lee is a survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, the General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, a Legislative Councilor of Hong Kong from 1995 to 2016, as well as a co-founder of the Labour Party of Hong Kong. In an interview he granted to me for Libero, an Italian national daily, he stated that the new U.S. law marks a road to be followed internationally. International sanctions are needed to held Hong Kong police and those who gave orders to them accountable for their unleashed brutality over peaceful demonstrators.
Mr. Lee mentioned the so-called “Global Magnitsky Act”, i.e., formally, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, or the bipartisan bill, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2012, that from 2016 allows the US. Government to sanction foreign officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. Ideally, this is the model he hopes will be followed also for Hong Kong.
The former Hong Kong politician also wishes that Europe, all too silent on the Hong Kong crisis, will act soon. He calls to action both European institutions and individual member states, even if there are no bright hopes for countries like Italy, where the party in the present coalition government with the largest number of MPs and senators, the Five Star Movement (of which the Foreign Minister is the senior political leader), has multiplied its pro-CCP statements.
Originally, HKHRDA was introduced as a bicameral and bipartisan piece of legislation (H.R.5696) on June 13 by Representative Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), former Co-Chairman of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China and now its second highest ranking member. The House approved it by voice vote on October 15. After the Senate passed an amended version on November 19, the bill went back to the House, which approved it rapidly on November 20, to let it arrive in the Oval Office by November 27.
Of course, China’s reactions have been immediate and hysterical. But this is a good sign. It means that China is vulnerable, and quite sensitive, to unequivocal actions taken at international level. People in Hong Kong, and all over China, know that all too well. This is why they hope that more action will soon be taken internationally, to support the Chinese people’s demand for basic human rights and liberties.