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Will the New Hong Kong Human Rights Act Jeopardize Trump's China Trade Deal?

Trump Xi

Now that Congress has approved the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, President Donald Trump faces a tough decision.

Will US-China trade talks – something the president has worked hard to negotiate with the leaders of the world's second largest economy – be jeopardized? China has threatened to take tough counter measures if Trump signs the Hong Kong measure.

Members of Congress sent a powerful signal to China Thursday by standing with the pro-democracy protestors of Hong Kong. 

"If America does not speak up for human rights in China because of commercial issues, we lose all moral authority to speak about human rights anywhere in the world," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi insisted. 

At least 23 more protestors left Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Thursday after days of the worst anti-government violence since Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests began.  

"The protests have continued because the people of Hong Kong see what's coming. They see the steady effort to erode the autonomy and their freedoms," said US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons (D) explained why he also supported the measure saying, "The United States has long stood as a beacon of freedom and a country that supports and calls out to those who are demonstrating to their rights. We need to be a more forceful and effective voice in Hong Kong."

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is more than just symbolic – government officials responsible for violating human rights in Hong Kong could be subjected to tough sanctions including visa bans and the freezing of their assets in US banks.  Another bill approved by Congress suspends the sale of munitions to Hong Kong police.

China responded angrily. Meeting with former US Defense Secretary William Cohen in Beijing Thursday, China's foreign minister said the US move is "a stark interference in China's internal affairs."

But protestors say police have killed some of them, like the demonstrator who was shot point blank in the chest last week. Hong Kong police have also reportedly sprayed chemical-laced water on pro-democracy protestors.  

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy says China President Xi Jinping is quickly becoming a pariah on the world stage. "He is destroying one of the economic jewels of the world, but certainly one of the economic jewels of China." 

Andrew Duncan, is co-producer of a Netflix documentary on Hong Kong's "umbrella movement". On this week's episode of the CBN News Channel program The Global Lane, he said President Trump needs to sign the bill despite the potential threat it may pose to a US-China trade deal.  

"We have yet to hear from the President of the United States and he needs to firmly speak out in defense of democracy, in my opinion, and firmly speak out in support of Hong Kong's rights under the joint resolution," he said.

It remains unclear if President Trump will sign the bill. 

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