US foreign affairs committees approve bill . . .
U.S. lawmakers moved closer to passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as the Committee on Foreign Affairs in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved the bill on Wednesday. With bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans, the bill would sanction Chinese officials deemed responsible for “undermining basic freedoms in Hong Kong.” The bill will go to a full vote in both U.S. chambers once the text is finalized. China has stated that the bill is a “gross interference” in its own internal affairs and has threatened to “hit back forcefully.”
Celebrations dampened ahead of National Day . . .
Ahead of China’s National Day on October 1, festivities have been scaled back in Hong Kong as anti-government protests are scheduled to occur over the weekend. Protesters are asking that their four remaining demands are met: an independent inquiry into police misconduct, amnesty for arrested protesters, universal suffrage, and retracting the classification of the protests as ‘riots.’ Yesterday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam attempted to conduct an open dialogue with the public in the 16th week of protests, but she was instead trapped for four hours in the town hall venue as protesters surrounded the building. She refused to speak with protesters outside, and her conversations with town hall participants were widely considered to be ineffective – resulting in no tangible progress in diffusing the ongoing standoff.
Hong Kong on high alert . . .
For months, news reports have suggested October 1 as a deadline for Beijing to take decisive action against unrest in Hong Kong. While Carrie Lam stated in her leaked audio recording to Reuters that military intervention in Hong Kong is unlikely, authorities are still on high alert to stop anything that may embarrass Beijing on its 70th anniversary. Protesters have posted in online forums that next Tuesday they will hold a ‘No National Day but National Calamity March.’ If protests continue to intensify and Beijing escalates its response, the Canadian government may be increasingly pressured to take a harder policy stance on China, like the U.S, given there are more than 300,000 Canadians living in the city.