US will drop Hong Kong’s special trade status; HK bans protest on May 10

Hong Kong government is reopening schools and relaxing social-distancing, but the police banned this weekend’s pro-democracy march citing the coronavirus social gathering restrictions. 

  • A pro-democracy march has been planned for May 10, but the organizers announced on Telegram on Wednesday that the police had rejected their letter of no objection application on the grounds that group gatherings have been restricted.
  • The US is in the process to end the special trade status for Hong Kong to implement the Hong Kong Bill passed in 2019.
  • The Hong Kong Legislative Council’s House Committee will have a special meeting on Friday afternoon to consider legal advice on the committee’s current impasse, its incumbent chairperson, Starry Lee Wai-king, announced on Monday.
  • Hong Kong plans to reopen schools and relax social distancing.

May 10 will be a crossroad for Hongkongers’ pro-democracy movement

According to Chinese dissident Miles Guo, the Chinese Communist Party set May 10th as the deadline to end all pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

if there are two million protesters on Hong Kong streets on May 10, the CCP will be facing two choices: impose martial law in Hong Kong or grant all five demands made by the protesters. So the CCP is sabotaging the May 10th demonstration.

Mr. Guo plans to broadcast live on GTV (https://gtv.org) in support of Hong Kong. He praises the Hongkongers as heroes for their defiance against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP has been openly violating the Sino-British Joint Declarations and eroding the democracy in Hong Kong, which prompted large scale demonstrations since last summer.

Mr. Guo also said that the US is close to drop the special trade status for Hong Kong as one of the multiple steps for the US to decouple with the CCP. The Hong Kong stock market will collapse and the Hong Kong dollar will be worthless.

The US action is to carry out the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019:

This bill addresses Hong Kong’s status under U.S. law and imposes sanctions on those responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong. (Hong Kong is part of China but has a largely separate legal and economic system.)

The Department of State shall certify annually to Congress as to whether Hong Kong warrants its unique treatment under various treaties, agreements, and U.S. law. The analysis shall evaluate whether Hong Kong is upholding the rule of law and protecting rights enumerated in various documents, including (1) the agreement between the United Kingdom and China regarding Hong Kong’s return to China, and (2) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The bill extends existing annual reporting requirements on matters of U.S. interest in Hong Kong through 2027 and expands such reports to include assessments of (1) limits to Hong Kong’s autonomy, either self-imposed or due to China’s actions; and (2) whether rescission of Hong Kong’s special treatment would further erode Hong Kong’s autonomy. 

The President shall annually report to Congress on Hong Kong’s enforcement of U.S. export controls, including whether items of U.S. origin have been used for mass surveillance in China and whether Hong Kong has been used to evade sanctions on North Korea or Iran. 

The State Department shall notify Congress if any proposed or enacted law in Hong Kong negatively impacts U.S. interests, including by putting U.S. citizens at risk of rendition to China.

The President shall impose property and visa-blocking sanctions on foreign persons responsible for gross human rights violations in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Legislative Council to end the impasse

Earlier, two senior counsels advised LegCo President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen that Lee is entitled to assume control of committee operations not affected by the election impasse.

Lee said the decision to convene the meeting was in line with her rights granted by the Rules of Procedure and the House Rules — two guidelines of LegCo’s operation. She will decide whether to adopt the legal advice at the meeting and press ahead with other agenda items.

Because of opposition-camp filibustering, the committee has failed to elect a chairperson in 16 meetings over the past six months. The situation has resulted in 14 bills and more than 20 subsidiary regulations being put on hold.

The committee will hold its 17th meeting to elect a chairperson on Friday morning. Opposition lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang will preside as usual.

Lee said that if the election of a chairperson were to be successfully concluded at the morning meeting, the new chairperson would take charge of the rest of the committee’s agenda. If not, she will hold the meeting to discuss the advice of the senior counsels.

The Rules of Procedure and the House Rules clearly show that pending the election of a new chairman, the incumbent House Committee chairman should have all the usual powers to conduct the committee’s business, said Benjamin Yu Yuk-hoi and Suen Jenkin in their legal advice.

If she were to assume this authority, Lee would be in a position to move legislation that has been held up by the committee’s failure to elect a new chairperson.

The counsels noted that Lee could organize meetings to handle the backlog caused by the impasse, especially those issues that need immediate attention. However, Lee, who is standing for re-election as chairperson, should continue to stay out of the election process, they added.

The advice was supported by lawmakers. Barrister Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the senior counsels have accurately interpreted the Rules of Procedure, which was promulgated to guarantee the legislature’s proper function.

She urged Lee to adopt the advice in order to speed up the deliberation of stalled bills. Leung suggested Lee use the power granted by the Rules of Procedure to set a clear timetable for House Committee meetings. Other than 15 minutes for electing a chairperson, the committee’s time could be used to handle other affairs, Leung said.

Another lawmaker, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, said the legal advice is “valuable” and “worth accepting.” She noted the counsels have cited several authoritative court rulings on local and overseas cases, which all reflected that interpretation of regulations should adopt a purposeful approach.

Hong Kong schools will reopen

Hong Kong schools will reopen in stages starting from May 27, the government said on Tuesday, claiming that the coronavirus outbreak is subsiding in the city.

First to return to class will be secondary school students from Form Three to Form Five, following the completion of the city’s university entrance exam on May 25, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at a press conference.

Primary Four to Form Two students will resume classes on June 8, while Kindergarten Three to Primary Three pupils will return to schools on June 15. Classes will not be resumed during this term for younger kindergarten children.

All non-tertiary schools have been closed since the Lunar New Year holiday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lam also announced the relaxation of some social distancing rules put in place to contain the viral outbreak. All the changes will take effect on Friday.

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May. 07, 2020