Today, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists are expected to mark International Democracy Day with further protests.
Movement leaders have sought to continue defying authorities despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s formal withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill on September 5—one of the protesters’ five demands. In recent weeks, activists have sought direct international attention by protesting at Hong Kong’s airport and outside the US embassy.
Demonstrators have called on the US Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019 (Hong Kong Act), which would target Chinese and Hong Kong officials deemed by Washington to have suppressed protesters’ human rights and “basic freedoms”.
The bipartisan bill has a good chance of coming into law, despite Beijing’s repeated lobbying of the White House. Expect the bill to harden Beijing’s stance against any further concessions.
As such, expect further arrests of people deemed to be “colluding with foreign forces” and an escalation of online misinformation campaigns on social media; Twitter and Facebook have shut down many pro-Beijing accounts for engaging in coordinated suspicious activity in recent weeks. However, Beijing’s red line—keeping dissent contained to Hong Kong—will remain. Should protests spill over into mainland China, Beijing will adopt much more forceful measures.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.