Opinion / Politics

Freedom in Hong Kong: Trump Should Follow Reagan

hong kong

President Trump has a chance to take a page from Ronald Reagan.  He should do it.  Ronald Reagan sided with freedom-seeking people dominated by Soviet Russia.  Donald Trump should sign the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” siding with freedom-seeking Hong Kong.

First, do not fall for the false dichotomy:  Signing a pro-democracy bill – one that allows sanctions on China for human rights abuses and snuffing out Hong Kong’s freedom – will end the trade pact with China. 

China’s economy is slowing, debt high, currency manipulated, theft of intellectual property outed, missteps at World Trade Organization litigated, and 5-G dominance plainly at risk.  They sell four times as much to us as we can to them.  They are on the ropes – and need trade with the US.

Militarily, they are modernizing fast, pressuring regional economies, erecting military islands in the South China Sea, and militarizing space.  But they cannot go toe to toe with the US military – and they know it.

To be clear, China wants a first-stage trade deal – to reinforce their slowing growth, allow pre-Christmas sales to US consumers, avoid December 15 tariff bump-ups.  They are beginning to lose face in this dance.  They know what we know: Americans have many buying options, and they need our cash.

That is reason one why President Trump should damn Beijing’s torpedoes and sign the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019” – currently on his desk.   It is the right thing to do.

Reason two is Americans, represented by unanimity in the House and Senate, stand with the freedom-seeking Hong Kong population.  This bill passed the House and Senate on unanimous voice votes.  The House accepted the Senate version – and whisked it off to the president.  In short, there is moral authority behind this bill – and the President should add his.

Third, something stunning is happening in Hong Kong.  It happened over the weekend.  Against the odds, facing communist pressure not to do so, the people of Hong Kong – many born into freedom, 92 percent Chinese – voted for freedom.

That is right, on Sunday the 24th, “pro-democracy candidates won big gains in district council elections…” after an all-out attempt to blunt them, arrest protestors, punish those seeking rights promised Hong Kong in 1997. 

That outcome is remarkable.  The people of this semi-autonomous territory are saying in one voice, “support us.”  They value individual freedom above communist order.

This is rather inspiring – or should be – for Americans.  Our nation represents a beacon for those who hope, work, and assert the right to vote – democracy. 

On the numbers, “the Electoral Affairs Commission said a record-smashing 71.2 percent of the electorate, or more than 2.9 million residents, took part in voting for 452 seats in 18 district councils,” speaking loudly for freedom.  Four years ago, turnout was just 47 percent. 

So, the die is cast.  China could attempt to suppress Hong Kong’s longing for freedom, compliance with promises, and individual liberty, but the cost would be high. 

Not only would China lose stability, if activated Hong Kong rose against the crackdown. Almost 60 percent of Chinese finance goes through Hong Kong; that would dry up or become highly volatile.  The territory would slide into recession, ending a major engine of Chinese growth.

Even without President Trump’s signature on the pro-democracy bill, the global response to another Tiananmen crackdown would be immediate and unified.  If China’s economy is weakening, it would drop into a stall under international condemnation.

What is the right outcome from here?  Simpler than most realize.  If Chinese leadership were to take the vaunted long view, one outcome would flummox pundits. 

If China releases pressure on Hong Kong, allowing freedoms sought to be assured, they could also sign a trade bill.  Their economy would firm, Hong Kong continue to be an engine, and they would get credit for common sense.

On our side, President Trump should still sign the pro-democracy bill – making clear Americans live by and believe in moral compass.  We stand with those who seek, and fight for freedom.  That message would be heard around the world – from Iran and North Korea to Russia.   Americans would applaud and no one in Congress would oppose. 

Meantime, China’s inclination to look after their own interests, a capacity well-honed, would cause their leaders to finish stage-one of that elusive trade accord.  Our speaking up for human rights will derail nothing.  It will remind them that we put right first.

A second phase of the US-China trade relationship, when we hold them accountable across a broader range, must await President Trump’s reelection, since China hopes to wait him out. 

That is fine.  Our farmers will benefit from “stage one.”  Hong Kong will know we stand with freedom.  Beijing will recall Ronald Reagan. 

We Americans have it in us to lead.  We should not shy from doing so.  Reagan never did.  This is a chance for President Trump to take that torch of liberty forward – for all of us.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Robert B. Charles

34
Leave a Reply

26 Comment threads
8 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
25 Comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
J. FARLEY

WE AND PRESIDENT TRUMP SHOULD SIDE WITH FREEDOM SEEKING PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL OR ECONOMICS ISSUES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ON ANOTHER NOTE AS I SET HERE THIS MORNING WAITING FOR TODAY’S POST AND ON THE EVE OF THANKSGIVING , THOUGHTS OF HOW SPECIAL THIS COUNTRY REALLY IS WITH THE FREEDOMS WE HAVE , NO OTHER COUNTRY COMES CLOSE BE IT RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS , FREEDOMS TO FOLLOW OUR OWN DREAMS , THE FREEDOM TO PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS WITH THE 2nd AMENDMENT
AND OUR FREEDOM TO EXPRESS OUR OPINION’S AS MEANY OF US DO HERE EVERYDAY ,SO I WOULD LIKE TO WISH ALL OF YOU A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND LET ALL OF US STAY STRONG AND KEEP FIGHTING TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS

IbeBob

I agree with the article. Even though our Senate Republicans have not necessarily stood next to our President. President Trump should sign the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019

Phil Hammersley

The HK protesters are waving US flags and singing OUR national anthem while liberal idiots in the USA are kneeling for the anthem and burning our flag! Maybe we should send our deadbeats over there and see if they’d like things better!

Albert Atkinson Jr

I agree such an action would demonstrate the Presidents real commitment to what the USA stands for!

John Canfield

This is a round-sounding gong for the support of freedom in the world at large. A fantastic article–straight to the heart of the matter, and hammered hard. Excellent. Follow this lead everyone!

R shoemaker

The Hong Kong situation is complex and has angles that are different from the USSR at the time Reagan gave his historic speech. I appreciate the “heart” of the writer but this needs more thought. I have a son (very conservative) who ran businesses in China for four years. He says it was easier to run a business there than in the United Soviet Socialist State of California. Unlike Russia in the eighties, China is a diversified economy where most of the people appear to be relatively happy. I am NOT defending China. I am just saying that this is very different.

Sharon Harrigan

I am praying that God will give President Trump the boldness to do what is right. If this be God’s will, I pray he will sign that bill.

roger reid

The last time I visited Hong Kong was 1988 several years before the turnover. The promise that China made was that H.K. would always remain a free-zone. Pleasantly surprised the China kept that promise for so many years. They need to back off and adhere to their promise.

Ruth Kidney

I have a step son in Vietnam and he can attest to China’s growing threat in that region. They have confiscated fishing boats and ships. They have designs on ultimately controlling the entire south east and it appears this is what the Japanese tried to do during WWII. We should do all we can to stop them. Sign and support Hong Kong, Mr. President!

Stephen Russell

Sign the act & boost pressure on trade talks alone & win win for US & for HK protestors alone, Hoorah & OK HK protestors to the US.
Id be awesome to sign,

John Karkalis

Amen, Robert B. Charles, amen!
Send a message to the World and to China.

Mary

China doesn’t care about a democracy election. The only reason China hasn’t murdered or sent the protectors to re-education death camp is because of President Trump strong foreign policies with China. China already has 2 million Muslims/Christians in re-education camps. China is afraid/respects President Trump. President Trump is working his magic behind the scenes!

Diane

He has signed it. The people of Hong Kong are happy.

Dave

Where are the Brits on this??

Joe_P

AMEN!

JohnH

Trump should sign & side with freedom & not let his trade war weigh on his decision. Also, this article insinuates that we might get into a arms race war with China??? Is that correct ???

Josephine pooley

My favorite part of this is that Congress is unified. Probably for the first time since President Trump took office! He should jump on this chance to support democracy and sign this bill. It’s a win-win!

Fred

Was this “act” approved by the legislature? Which house wrote and approved it first? Did it go to a bicameral committee?

JohnH

If Trump does not sign, what will that mean about him & rest of world??? Also, I do not believe that Trump can outlast China patience on trade war & should back off of this , as is hurting lots of Americans also. Plus, explain to me how the tariff $$ are going in govt. coffers ??? and if so start paying down debt deficit

JohnH

Trump should not micro-manage the Navy as he did last week. The military is not a business like Trump is used to controlling. Why weaken military & why should it be okay to post picture with a corpse of another, sick & more like ISIS tactics. Shame on Trump & losing another long term Naval officer.