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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Hong Kong Protests (2019)"

Beijing Threatens Hong Kong’s Companies and Workers

HONG KONG — China and its allies are using threats and pressure to get business to back Beijing’s increasingly hard-line stance toward Hong Kong, leading companies to muzzle or intimidate workers who speak out in protest.

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s former top leader, on Friday called for a boycott of HSBC, the London bank, because it had not publicly backed Beijing’s push to enact a new national security law covering the territory. “Neither China nor Hong Kong owes HSBC anything,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “HSBC’s businesses in China can be replaced overnight by banks from China and from other countries.”

Days earlier, a union representing financial workers filed complaints with Hong Kong financial regulators alleging that two Chinese banks had pressured their employees to sign a petition supporting the law. “Such behavior by a supervisor to compel employees to take political sides could be considered abusive,” the union wrote in letters to local officials.

Lawyers, bankers, professors and other professionals interviewed by The New York Times described a growing culture of fear in offices across the city. Employees face pressure to support pro-Beijing candidates in local elections and echo the Chinese government’s official line. Those who speak out can be punished or even forced out.

China and the United States are clashing over the future of Hong Kong, and global businesses are caught in the middle. President Trump on Friday said he would begin rolling back the special trade and financial privileges that the United States extends to Hong Kong after Chinese leaders pushed through the plan to enact the national security law, which critics fear will curtail the city’s independent judicial system and civil liberties.

Hong Kong’s success as a global financial hub stems from its status as a bridge between China’s economic miracle and the rest of the world. Now that balance is looking increasingly precarious.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_167620722_94931d10-3153-4573-9427-a26524456ee3-articleLarge Beijing Threatens Hong Kong's Companies and Workers Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Freedom of the Press Freedom of Speech and Expression Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Courts and the Judiciary China Boycotts Banking and Financial Institutions
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“We’ve seen a rapid deterioration in free expression in Hong Kong since the anti-government protests began,” said Jason Ng, a former lawyer for BNP Paribas, the French bank.


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    Understand the Current Hong Kong Protests

    Updated May 27, 2020

    • Where we left off

      In the summer of 2019, Hong Kong protesters began fighting a rule that would allow extraditions to China. These protests eventually broadened to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy from China. The protests wound down when pro-democracy candidates notched a stunning victory in Hong Kong elections in November, in what was seen as a pointed rebuke of Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong.

      Late in 2019, the protests then quieted.

    • How it’s different this time

      Those peaceful mass rallies that occurred in June of 2019 were pointed against the territory leadership of Hong Kong. Later, they devolved into often-violent clashes between some protesters and police officers and lasted through November 2019. The current protests are aimed at mainland China.

    • What’s happening now

      This latest round of demonstrations in Hong Kong has been fueled largely by China’s ruling Communist Party move this month to impose new national security legislation for Hong Kong.

      To China, the rules are necessary to protect the country’s national sovereignty. To critics, they further erode the relative autonomy granted to the territory after Britain handed it back to China in 1997.


Mr. Ng was punished by his former employer for writing his political views on his Facebook page, using the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” to complain about pro-Chinese demonstrators. The comments, which were later taken down, were heavily criticized in China’s state media and on the Chinese internet. BNP apologized and pledged to take immediate action. Mr. Ng then left the bank.

“There is this awful environment now,” said Mr. Ng, who has co-authored a book about the pressure in Hong Kong called “Unfree Speech.” “The whole banking industry, at least Chinese-funded banks, they face quite a lot of pressure from China.”

Something similar happened to Ka-chung Law, a high-profile economist at Bank of Communications, a state-backed Chinese bank. For two decades, Mr. Law said he never felt any topic was off limits.

Last summer, as violence flared, Mr. Law was told not to talk about the role that the political chaos was having on the local economy. It was a difficult proposition. He could see it was having a direct impact.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Then in early October, Mr. Law said, he emailed an article to his team that was critical of China and discussed ways in which the United States could punish Beijing economically. One of his bosses called him in.

The bank distanced itself from the article. Mr. Law’s note had come from his work email, therefore implicating the bank. “That day I was told, ‘This is your view,’” he said. “I was not the author of the article, but I didn’t want to argue.”

Mr. Law said he was told to resign. He did. “I don’t want to stay in that kind of environment,” he said, “and I don’t think I deserve to stay in the position if I keep my mouth shut.” The bank declined to comment.

The silencing of views different from Beijing’s on the protests can be both subtle and overt.

Gios Choong works for a Chinese state-backed company doing quarantine checks and quality control inspection at the Hong Kong border. When he first started out more than two decades ago, most of his colleagues were Hong Kongers, and the atmosphere was more open, he said. But in recent years, resentment built up as Hong Kong employees like himself were replaced with mainlanders.

These days, when conversation at work turns to the protests, managers label them as riots. Mr. Choong, who is a supporter of the pro-democracy protests, said he found it alienating.

“My boss said to me, ‘Why do they go out?’” referring to the protesters. “‘You eat from China. Your food is from China. The water comes from China. So why?’”

On the Friday before Hong Kong held district council elections in November, Mr. Choong’s manager approached him with a request. Vote No. 2, he was told. That was the number for the pro-Beijing candidate in his district. He voted for the pro-democracy candidate instead. The pro-democracy camp swept the election.

Increasingly, multinationals have found themselves in Beijing’s censorship cross hairs. The N.B.A. was thrust into the harsh spotlight last year after the general manager of the Houston Rockets wrote a message on Twitter in support of the Hong Kong protesters. State media acted swiftly in retaliation, canceling the broadcast of preseason games.

Coach, Givenchy and Versace have also been forced to apologize for selling clothes with designs that suggested Hong Kong was separate from China.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Ming-tak Ng, a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, has witnessed firsthand the fury of ordinary Chinese citizens.

Until August, many of his weekends were devoted to teaching part-time M.B.A. students in the mainland. Then he was photographed at a protest with Jimmy Lai, the owner of a media group who is critical of China.

When his students saw it, they wrote to university officials to complain about Mr. Ng’s participation, requesting in a letter that the university delete “any information about him during the process of our study and in our graduation thesis” and threatening to boycott events where Mr. Ng was in attendance.

After discussing the situation with the university, Mr. Ng agreed to stop teaching at the Chinese campuses. “I don’t blame them,” Mr. Ng said. “In China, everyone is under a tightly controlled system. I appreciate that they did this to protect themselves politically.”

Christina Wu, a spokeswoman for the university, confirmed Mr. Ng’s change of schedule but said it was done “purely based on academic considerations.” She said the university did not delete any information about Mr. Ng.

This week, as Beijing pushed on with plans to implement its national security law in Hong Kong, pro-Beijing groups fanned out across the city in search of support. According to some local workers, their bosses helped in the effort.

Managers at Chiyu Banking Corporation, a local bank owned by Xiamen International Bank, sent a WhatsApp message to employees asking them to sign a petition, according to a complaint filed by the Hong Kong Financial Industry Employees General Union. Once they had done so, the complaint said, they were told to screenshot their signature and share it.

Similar instructions were sent to employees at Wing Lung Bank, according to the union. Workers at other banks said they had received similar messages, said Ka-wing Kwok, the union’s chairman, but the union was unable to verify them.

Chiyu Banking and Wing Lung Bank did not respond to requests for comment. Hong Kong regulators declined to comment.

“Such behavior caused a chilling effect among employees,” the union wrote in letters to the Hong Kong authorities.

“Employees could not help worrying that if they do not obey the instructions of their superiors, they might either be singled out by the company or their personal work performance evaluation would be affected in the future.”

Cao Li contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Has Lost Autonomy, Pompeo Says, Opening Door to U.S. Action

Mr. Pompeo’s action came just hours before China was expected to pass a national security law that would allow Chinese security agencies to take broad actions limiting the liberties of Hong Kong residents, many of whom have protested the proposed law and clashed with police officers.

The United States and China appear to be on a collision course over the future of Hong Kong, a center of global capitalism and symbol of resistance to the Chinese Communist Party. Relations between the two nations are at their worst in decades, and disputes have flared over trade, national security and the origins of the coronavirus.

President Trump’s foreign policy aides are discussing actions that would be among the harshest punishments taken against China over the past three years. The actions could have far-reaching consequences for global commerce and transform how Chinese and foreign companies operate, as well as upend the lives of many of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents, who have been under enormous pressure from years of political crackdowns.

Hong Kong has been a financial and commercial hub since late last century. China relies on the bustling city of ports and skyscrapers on the edge of the South China Sea for transactions with other countries. Many Chinese and foreign firms use Hong Kong as an international or regional base, and members of elite Communist Party families or executives with ties to them do business and own property there. Many companies also raise capital by listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Mr. Pompeo has said the security law would be a “death knell” for Hong Kong, which has had liberties under a semiautonomous system of governance that do not exist in mainland China, including freedoms of speech, the press and assembly, as well as an independent judiciary.

In recent days, protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets to voice outrage at the proposed law, only to be beaten back by police officers clad in riot gear and firing tear gas.

American diplomats said they called on Wednesday for a virtual meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss Hong Kong, but China blocked the move.

If it proceeds with punishments, the Trump administration could impose the same tariffs on exports from Hong Kong that it puts on goods from mainland China, said officials with knowledge of the discussions. Other trade restrictions that apply to China, including bans or limits on what American companies can sell to Chinese companies because of national security or human rights concerns, may be imposed on Hong Kong as well.

Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers are discussing visa bans on Chinese officials who enact the law.

“I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Mr. Pompeo said Wednesday. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

“Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure,” he added. “But sound policymaking requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

Mr. Pompeo is the most vocal of a group of national security officials who advocate tough policies on China. Some of Mr. Trump’s top economic advisers prefer a more conciliatory approach to dealing with China, the world’s second-largest economy, and will likely urge caution. American corporate executives have said the administration should act with care.

Mr. Trump has rarely made any strong comments on the situation in Hong Kong, and he has praised Xi Jinping, the president of China, throughout his time in office, even insisting that they have a strong friendship. Mr. Trump has also been eager to promote a trade agreement he signed with China in January as an economic win for the United States. He wants to avoid jeopardizing that deal, even though Beijing is not meeting purchasing quotas mandated by it.

The president is keen to boost the U.S. economy, which has fallen into recession during the pandemic, ahead of the November presidential election.

But on Tuesday, when asked by reporters about China’s proposed national security law, Mr. Trump said he planned to act this week. “I think you’ll find it very interesting,” he said, adding that his response would come “very powerfully.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172871856_1c5f4d61-6dad-417b-859d-87923dc3f8ab-articleLarge Hong Kong Has Lost Autonomy, Pompeo Says, Opening Door to U.S. Action United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J State Department Pompeo, Mike Law and Legislation International Trade and World Market Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong China
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

The certification by the State Department is a recommendation on policy and does not itself catalyze actions immediately. American officials, including Mr. Trump, will now weigh what steps to take.

The United States is likely to choose specific areas in which to break off cooperation first with Hong Kong, including trade and law enforcement.

The president would need to issue an executive order to end the special relationship entirely, according to people familiar with the discussions. One possibility is for the United States to take piecemeal action over the next year before ending the special status if China does not change course, they said.

“We’re not hopeful that Beijing will reverse itself, but that is an option,” David R. Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said of the Chinese government’s push on the national security law.

Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997, after the two nations reached an agreement on the colony 13 years earlier. In 1992, the United States passed a law that said the American government would treat a Beijing-ruled Hong Kong under the same conditions it had applied to the British colony.

In November, after months of pro-democracy protests and crackdowns by the police in Hong Kong, Mr. Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill requiring the State Department to provide an annual certification to Congress to help determine whether to continue the special relationship with Hong Kong.

That certification depends on a judgment by department officials of whether China was ceding enough autonomy to Hong Kong.

Susan Shirk, a former State Department official now at the University of California, San Diego, said that given the mandate from Congress, Mr. Pompeo had no choice on his assessment “once Beijing blatantly overruled the Hong Kong legislature with a new law that integrates Hong Kong” into the Chinese security state.

“Of course, the big losers will be the people of Hong Kong, not the politicians in Beijing or Washington who produced this predicament,” she added.

Mr. Pompeo’s announcement is certain to draw condemnation from Beijing, where the government is holding its annual legislative session this week. Officials announced details of the proposed law Friday, at the start of the session.

“If anyone insists on harming China’s interests, China is determined to take all necessary countermeasures,” Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a news conference earlier Wednesday in Beijing. “The national security law for Hong Kong is purely China’s internal affair that allows no foreign interference.”

Some American business executives are advising the Trump administration to tread carefully on changing the relationship with Hong Kong.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents American companies in Hong Kong, said in a statement Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” about the proposed national security law. It asked the Chinese government to “peacefully de-escalate” the situation and preserve the semi-autonomy of the “one country, two systems” framework that, under the 1984 treaty between Beijing and London, is supposed to exist until 2047.

“We likewise urge the Trump administration to continue to prioritize the maintenance of a positive and constructive relationship between the United States and Hong Kong,” the group said.

It added that “far-reaching changes” to Hong Kong’s status “in economic and trade matters would have serious implications for Hong Kong and for U.S. business, particularly those with business operations located there who exercise a positive influence in favor of Hong Kong’s core values.”

Julian Ku, a law professor at Hofstra University, said the Trump administration had flexibility on which options to exercise.

“I would expect the president would act on some agreements, but not on others,” Mr. Ku said. For example, he noted, the administration might terminate the extradition treaty with Hong Kong, since the national security law makes fair adjudication less credible, or it could put Hong Kong under the same controls that limit American technology exports to China.

“But he might leave the visa waiver treatment that Hong Kong residents currently receive when coming to the U.S. alone for now,” he said.

Mark Williams, the chief Asia economist at Capital Economics, said Mr. Trump’s tariffs on imports from mainland China — which are paid by American companies — would not automatically extend to Hong Kong despite the new State Department assessment. But the cumulative effect of various actions would erode Hong Kong’s status as an international business center, Mr. Williams wrote in a note to clients.

“The irony is that in punishing Hong Kong, we wind up martyring it rather than saving it,” said Daniel Russel, an assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific in the Obama administration. As for diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, he said: “The brake pads in the relationship have worn very, very thin. And it’s hard to see this confrontation going anywhere except escalation.”

In Congress, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida and a sponsor of the bill on Hong Kong that passed last fall, cheered Mr. Pompeo’s announcement.

“For years, the Chinese government and Communist Party have walked back on its commitment to ensure autonomy and freedom for Hong Kong,” Mr. Rubio said. “We cannot let Beijing profit from breaking the Sino-British Joint Declaration and trying to crush the spirit of Hong Kong’s people.”

On another front, the State Department plans to expand the list of Chinese state-run news organizations operating in the United States on which it has imposed new restrictions, including foreign employee quotas, American officials said. And the agency is watching to see if China will retaliate against American journalists in Hong Kong for the administration’s most recent round of visa restrictions against Chinese journalists. In March, China expelled American journalists from three news organizations, including The New York Times.

Michael Crowley and Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from Beijing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

China’s Security Law Shakes Hong Kong’s Business World

Westlake Legal Group chinas-security-law-shakes-hong-kongs-business-world China's Security Law Shakes Hong Kong's Business World Stocks and Bonds Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — China’s desire to take a stronger hand in running Hong Kong has imperiled its status as Asia’s financial capital, sending its stock market into its sharpest plunge in five years and spurring predictions that money and business could soon leave the former British colony.

The threat does not come just from Beijing, which late on Thursday outlined its plan to bypass Hong Kong leaders and enact national security laws affecting the territory of roughly seven million people. That move puts Hong Kong squarely in the middle of the growing conflict between China and the United States, which is increasingly challenging Beijing on a number of fronts and could retaliate in ways that hobble its appeal as a place to do business.

Businesses and investors worry that a bruising clash between the superpowers could put an end to Hong Kong’s enviable position as a bridge between China’s powerful economic engine and the rest of the world.

“No matter what, they need to maintain Hong Kong’s unique status,” said Fred Hu, a prominent investor and the former chairman of Goldman Sachs’s Greater China business. His investment firm, Primavera Capital Group, has put billions of dollars in investments into China over the years.

“It’s not only crucial for Hong Kong’s future, but also really for China as a whole, in today’s highly uncertain and volatile political climate,” he added.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172724382_8e16353a-b8d4-4b63-9bba-e4f4721b54d0-articleLarge China's Security Law Shakes Hong Kong's Business World Stocks and Bonds Politics and Government Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Embargoes and Sanctions Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China
Credit…Pool photo by Andy Wong

Investors expressed their fears in no uncertain terms. Hong Kong’s stock market tumbled 5.6 percent on Friday. Futures trading in the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to value of the American dollar, indicated that investors were expecting money to flood out of the territory.

At stake is Hong Kong’s status as a semiautonomous Chinese city with an independent judiciary, guarantees of free expression and assembly, loose business regulation and low financial and trade barriers with much of the world.

Though it benefits from China’s wealth, Hong Kong operates outside the authoritarian mainland, which offers none of those attributes. It is home to the regional headquarters of major global and Chinese companies alike.

Anti-Beijing protests last year, which led to pitched battles between protesters and police and sometimes filled its central financial district with fires and tear gas, raised questions about how long Hong Kong could remain appealing as a place to do business. Beijing’s move on Thursday gave those questions new urgency.

Brushing aside local leaders, Chinese officials announced that they planned to proceed with sweeping security measures for Hong Kong that could take effect later this year. The officials did not disclose details.

The sudden and unexpected move by Beijing has prompted fears that the Chinese Communist Party is willing to overstep freedoms that were promised to Hong Kong when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.

It raised questions about whether businesspeople could fall afoul of China’s traditionally broad definition of national security. Could banks break the law by publishing skeptical research about Chinese economic data or state-run companies? Could crimes considered ordinary elsewhere be considered national security threats, to be tried by secretive mainland courts?

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“How tightly would legislation be drafted to avoid ambiguity for business?” said Tara Joseph, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Would people who seem to be breaking national security law be tried in Hong Kong or in mainland China? Overall, this raises the risk factor for Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong officials moved quickly to assuage concerns. Carrie Lam, the territory’s chief executive, said that the security law would target “acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities,” blights that she said the business sector had been “worrying about over the past year.”

Leung Chun-ying, a former chief executive of Hong Kong who is now a top Chinese adviser, said the national security measures were in the best interest of both Hong Kong society and investors.

“With such a law, it does not hinder foreign investors from investing locally, nor does it hinder the freedom enjoyed by local residents according to law,” Mr. Leung said in an interview with Chinese state media.

Officials in Washington may be an even more crucial audience. Hours after Beijing unveiled its plans, American lawmakers proposed legislation that would target Chinese officials and entities that trample on Hong Kong’s semiautonomous status. A proposed bill put forward by Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, and Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, would expose global banks to sanctions if they do business with entities that do the same.

“In many ways, Hong Kong is the canary in the coal mine for Asia,” Mr. Toomey said in an emailed statement. “Beijing’s growing interference could have a chilling effect on other nations struggling for freedom in China’s shadow.”

The State Department has delayed its annual report to Congress assessing the special status that it awards to Hong Kong while it waits to see details on Beijing’s new proposed security law in the coming days.

If the United States decided that Hong Kong’s relative autonomy was coming to an end, President Trump could take away certain privileges it grants the territory.

Credit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Tens of billions of dollars in trade would suddenly be subject to tariffs and included in the tit-for-tat trade war between Washington and Beijing. American officials could curtain travel from Hong Kong and make it harder for its people to get American work visas. Hong Kong would also have a harder time buying technology deemed sensitive by the Washington. The convertibility of Hong Kong’s currency — which is freely exchange with the American dollar — could also be at stake.

“If they did abolish it, they are saying goodbye to Hong Kong,” said Ms. Joseph, of the chamber of commerce.

Some are already saying goodbye. Last summer, money began to flow out of the city and into Singapore, a regional safe haven.

The money appears to have started to flow out again this year. As of March, foreign currency deposits at both domestic and international banks operating in Singapore had nearly doubled since July, totaling $15 billion. The data do not say where the money is coming from, but economists point to the doubts over Hong Kong.

“Increasingly these concerns are seeping into business decisions,” said William Kaye, a longtime investor in China and founder of Pacific Group, the investment firm. “What is just a trickle could become a flood of capital out of Hong Kong.”

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As Coronavirus Keeps the West at Bay, China Moves to Tame Hong Kong

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has made one of his boldest political gambits yet, wagering that he can tame Hong Kong through national security legislation, despite the risk of fresh upheavals there and a new flash point with the United States.

The security proposals, unveiled on Friday at the delayed opening of China’s annual legislative session, scotched any expectations that the coronavirus pandemic might have left Mr. Xi humbled, cautious or ready for compromise. On the contrary, he has chosen to press an offensive over Hong Kong, riling Western powers, at a time of global crisis while China is struggling to pull out of its sharpest economic slump since Mao’s time.

Mr. Xi has etched in blazing colors an outline of a post-pandemic world in which China shoulders past Western nations seen as divided, irresolute and now sapped by the virus and a looming economic slump. At the opening of the National People’s Congress, leaders exuded confidence that China had pulled out of the pandemic crisis faster and in better shape than much of the world.

“Through the hard work and sacrifice of our entire nation, we have made major strategic achievements in our response to Covid-19,” Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report to the congress, a kind of annual State of the Nation speech.

The move on Hong Kong aligns with Mr. Xi’s forceful vision of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” free of internal rifts. And he appears steeled for any economic, political and diplomatic blowback.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172730529_2ea2cc94-f69d-4c1a-a4d3-f94c1a1e09b0-articleLarge As Coronavirus Keeps the West at Bay, China Moves to Tame Hong Kong Xi Jinping Politics and Government National People's Congress (China) Law and Legislation Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Communist Party of China China
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

By imposing the national security legislation, Mr. Xi has cast aside the deference for Hong Kong’s distinctive legal status that his predecessors observed. Instead, he has taken an unabashedly interventionist approach that is constricting — critics say strangling — the “one country, two systems” framework that granted Hong Kong extensive autonomy after the territory’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

To justify the legislation, the Chinese leadership has depicted Hong Kong as besieged by chaotic forces whose shadowy foreign backers are seeking to tear China apart.

Wang Chen, a Politburo member who explained the security legislation plans on Friday, denounced protesters who have called for independence and stormed central government offices. The legislation would allow the mainland’s feared security agencies to set up their operations publicly in Hong Kong for the first time, instead of operating on a limited scale in secrecy.

“Anti-China, disrupt-Hong Kong forces have been openly promoting Hong Kong independence,” Mr. Wang said of the legislative plan. “There must be vigorous measures under the law to prevent, halt and punish them,” he said, eliciting thunderous applause from the nearly 3,000 delegates in the hall, all in face masks.

Chinese ire has been amplified by nationalistic diplomats, journalists and social media commentators who came of age in an era of rising national strength. They have portrayed protests in Hong Kong as a threat to Chinese national security.

“For the year of 2019, H.K. did not enjoy a single peaceful day,” the Global Times, a popular nationalistic tabloid, wrote in an editorial on Friday that overstated last year’s six months of disturbances. “It was like a city in an undeveloped country engulfed in turmoil.”

Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Mr. Xi is imposing the security legislation at a time when China already faces serious challenges.

Its post-pandemic economic recovery remains clouded. While the struggles were overshadowed by the security legislation, the point was underscored when Premier Li announced that this year the government would not set an annual growth target for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The pandemic brought China’s economy to a grinding halt from late January through early March. Further outbreaks, like one in the country’s northeast, threaten to delay recovery in the rest of the year as consumers remain scared to spend and factories still aren’t going at full tilt.

The Hong Kong legislation also raises the possibility of renewed unrest in Hong Kong. Some protesters called for demonstrations this weekend, although many democracy advocates seemed despondent on Friday.

“I think most young people right now are feeling at a loss — everyone still thought there was a lot of room for resistance last June,” said Jannelle Leung, 25, a pro-democracy district counselor, referring to the start of the protest movement last year. “But now, the Chinese Communist Party has furthered its suppression.”

The territory has already experienced an uptick in emigration, particularly by young people and families. “I want to leave Hong Kong, because the future of Hong Kong is too hard to anticipate,” said Jolie Tam, a 33-year-old housewife with a 1-year-old daughter.

Above all, the proposed security legislation may give new momentum to senior figures in the Trump administration and Congress who have increasingly accused China of threatening the security, prosperity and even the basic health of Americans.

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the Trump administration could stop treating Hong Kong as a separate economic entity from mainland China, an important underpinning of the territory’s easy trade access to the United States.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

If passed, the national security proposals “would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong,” Mr. Pompeo said in an emailed statement. “The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal.”

Mr. Xi appears to believe that the greater risk to him comes from allowing Hong Kong to continue as a stubborn base for protesters who challenge Communist Party rule and increasingly reject Chinese sovereignty over the territory. Since Mr. Xi came to power in 2012, the Chinese government has arrested dissidents and human rights lawyers, ramped up censorship and sent hundreds of thousands of Muslims into internment camps.

The Basic Law — Hong Kong’s mini-constitution — requires the territory to introduce national security legislation. But successive Hong Kong leaders have held back from doing so after an earlier attempt was crushed in 2003 by huge protests.

After the protests roiled Hong Kong last year, Mr. Xi signaled that he’d had enough.

A Chinese Communist Party leadership meeting in late October called for steps to “safeguard national security” in Hong Kong, while leaving observers guessing on when and how that might be achieved.

The legal language that Beijing will eventually adopt is likely to draw heavily on the Hong Kong government’s unsuccessful bill in 2003 together with similar legislation taken up in nearby Macau, said Lau Siu-kai, vice president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, an elite Beijing advisory group.

The issue has gained momentum in the intervening months.

The pro-democracy opposition has nearly paralyzed the Hong Kong legislature since October in an attempt to block passage of a law protecting China’s national anthem seen as a threat to free speech. The tensions between the two sides have made Beijing more skeptical of the Hong Kong government’s ability to pass national security legislation.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“I can understand their concern — it’s probably deeper and stronger than ours,” said Ronny Tong, a member of the top advisory body to Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam. “They can see our legislature is not functioning at all.”

Beijing’s security plan left its political allies in the city deeply divided. On one side were hard-liners like Mr. Lau, who called for stringent security laws and a greater role for the mainland in Hong Kong affairs. On the other were moderates from the business community and the upper echelons of Hong Kong’s British-trained civil service who wanted the city to solve its issues with as little involvement from Beijing as possible.

Regina Ip, a cabinet member who leads a pro-Beijing party in the legislature, has long called for Hong Kong to pass its own security laws, but said she had recently concluded that this was no longer possible in the polarized political atmosphere.

Hong Kong “simply does not have the capacity or political will to do so,” she said in a telephone interview.

Some of the city’s leadership were taken by surprise by the new security legislation. Mrs. Lam, the city’s chief executive, flew to Beijing for the congress this week. But she didn’t hold a meeting of her government’s top officials to discuss the legislation until after she returned on Friday evening.

“Safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is the constitutional requirement,” Mrs. Lam said in a statement that essentially echoed the words of Mr. Wang in Beijing.

She also criticized young people who “desecrate and burn the national flag openly, vandalize the national emblem and storm the Central People’s Government’s office in Hong Kong.”

Ezra Cheung contributed reporting.

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Hong Kong Protesters Surprised by China’s Security Law

Westlake Legal Group hong-kong-protesters-surprised-by-chinas-security-law Hong Kong Protesters Surprised by China's Security Law Politics and Government Law and Legislation Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China

HONG KONG — The last time they faced a proposal that would have curbed their autonomy from mainland China, Hong Kong residents flooded the city’s streets, stormed its legislature and clashed with police amid flames and clouds of tear gas. They stared down local leaders, who they said were doing the bidding of Beijing, and ultimately the government relented.

But Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition movement is now confronting a far mightier foe: Beijing itself.

The Chinese government’s plan, unveiled on Thursday, to take a stronger, more direct hand in Hong Kong’s affairs surprised members of the territory’s leaderless protest movement. For many protesters, the move raised questions about how to oppose the direct might of the Chinese Communist Party, which does not tolerate dissent and is fiercely resistant to compromise.

“They are dealing a knockout blow to the democracy movement,” said pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo. “All the fear, the desperation, the antipathy is now being answered by this national security law.”

Stunned and saddened, many protesters on Friday said they were searching for their next move. While some on social media called for rallies or singalongs, several organizers said they would focus on events already planned for the coming days. Those demonstrations include a rally scheduled for Sunday to oppose a separate drive by Hong Kong officials to criminalize disrespect of the Chinese national anthem.

Some protesters urged each other to delete their social media accounts, which they feared could be used against them should Beijing push through the same kind of social controls in Hong Kong that it exercises in the mainland. Others called for the United States or Britain, Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler, to act.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172730547_97617e03-c2f7-4174-b6ea-58e240f1c08c-articleLarge Hong Kong Protesters Surprised by China's Security Law Politics and Government Law and Legislation Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Demonstrations, Protests and Riots Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Outward signs of resistance were muted on Friday. At noon, about two dozen protesters walked from a police station on Hong Kong’s western side to China’s Liaison Office, which represents the mainland government’s interests in the semiautonomous territory. As they walked, they chanted, “One country, two systems is dead” and “Hong Kong is the next Xinjiang” — a reference to the region in northwest China where the authorities have carried out a vast crackdown on predominately Muslim minority groups.

Police officers quickly ordered the protesters, largely elected officials, to stop. Citing social distancing restrictions, the police eventually cordoned them off into two groups and issued formal warnings. The march lasted about three minutes.

“With each new blow, you start to feel that it is inevitable,” Lo Kin-hei, a district council member who joined the march, said of China’s tightening grip over the territory.

Chinese leaders, enraged by months of protests last year, moved on Thursday night to take on the protesters directly, rather than maneuvering through its handpicked Hong Kong government. Chinese officials said the country’s legislative body would impose national security laws on Hong Kong, a semi-independent territory, after nearly two decades of waiting for Hong Kong’s government to enact them itself.

Credit…Pool photo by Ng Han Guan

Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, who is selected by the central government, said in a statement that the proposed security laws would “ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.” They would also prevent dangerous situations that “the political and business sectors in Hong Kong and members of the public have been worrying about over the past year,” she said.

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Last year, protesters gathered to great effect. After the Hong Kong government introduced a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, the city’s residents — fearing that the bill would be used to quash dissent — mobilized in some of the largest protests in the city’s history. Hundreds of thousands filled some of Hong Kong’s busiest streets.

Hong Kong’s reaction to the Chinese government’s plan likely won’t stay muted for long. Many in the anti-Beijing camp said they believed the protests would mushroom as social distancing measures eased. The Hong Kong government recently extended the restrictions through at least June 4.

The city’s democracy activists also emphasized that the details of Beijing’s plan remain unclear and that any law would likely not go into effect for several months, giving them time to mobilize.

“Next week, the main thing might be the national anthem law, but in the coming months, the main thing will be the national security law,” said Agnes Chow, a prominent student activist. “I believe there will be a lot of mass protests in the coming weeks and months.”

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

But protesters also acknowledged that the ends of the protests had shifted, now that they were doing direct battle with Beijing, rather than its proxies in the local government.

Though Hong Kong’s electoral system is structured to give pro-Beijing voices an outsized say in the government, the territory’s limited autonomy from China — enshrined in the principle of “one country, two systems” — has given the opposition some clout. Mass protests and legislative maneuvers have helped anti-Beijing groups block some of the laws they most feared, by leaning on Hong Kong’s stated respect for the rule of law and civil liberties.

The Communist Party’s decision to bypass the Hong Kong government signaled that those avenues had been greatly diminished, pro-democracy figures said.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


Ms. Mo, the lawmaker, said the opposition would continue to resist Beijing’s efforts to extend its control over Hong Kong. But she said she expected the local legislature would have no say on how the security laws were crafted.

Wilson Leung, a founding member of Hong Kong’s Progressive Lawyers Group, a pro-democracy association, said the national security laws could allow the authorities to criminalize the opposition for even trying to organize.

“I think the only hope is that the world will wake up and put sufficient pressure on Beijing to really take a step back,” Mr. Leung said.

Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Indeed, while appeals to the international community formed a core part of the protesters’ message last year, they seemed especially prominent on Friday. Lee Cheuk-Yan, a former Hong Kong lawmaker and organizer of the city’s annual commemoration of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, said Beijing’s actions posed a clear test for the international community.

“They are challenging the world: ‘Are you going to do something for Hong Kong?’” Mr. Lee said at a news conference. “This is a challenge of the world’s values.”

Tiffany May, Ezra Cheung and Elaine Yu contributed reporting.

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China’s Hong Kong Crackdown Could Put Trump in an Unwelcome Spot

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-chinareact-facebookJumbo China’s Hong Kong Crackdown Could Put Trump in an Unwelcome Spot United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Embargoes and Sanctions Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Communist Party of China China

WASHINGTON — China’s plans to impose sweeping new security powers over Hong Kong could inflict even more damage on already fraught relations between Washington and Beijing, and force President Trump into uncomfortable decisions about whether to maintain his self-described friendly ties with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

The proposal announced in Beijing on Thursday provoked outrage in Congress, where bipartisan support grew quickly for new sanctions on Chinese officials and entities that Mr. Trump — who has shown limited interest in Hong Kong’s plight and a continued desire to carry out terms of a trade deal with Beijing — may not welcome.

Giving the government broad new powers to crack down on pro-democracy activists could effectively end Hong Kong’s limited independence and crush a protest movement that has agitated for nearly a year against China’s authoritarian Communist Party.

“This move by Beijing would rip away the remaining veneer of ‘one country, two systems.’ It would precipitate a crisis in U.S.-China relations,” said Evan Medeiros, a senior Asia director at the National Security Council under President Barack Obama and a professor at Georgetown University.

“Nationalist voices in the U.S. and China would have a party with this; 2020 is beginning to feel more and more like 1948 when the first crises of the Cold War broke out over Berlin,” Mr. Medeiros said, predicting that the United States and China would probably impose sanctions or other punishments on each other.

The Chinese government, which announced the move, is likely to put it in place by fiat during the National People’s Congress, which begins on Friday. How Mr. Trump will react is unclear.

Leaving the White House for a trip to Michigan on Thursday, he told reporters that he did not know “what it is,” but added, “If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly.”

The White House otherwise had no comment.

When mass demonstrations against Beijing took place in Hong Kong last summer, Mr. Trump — who has shown little interest in issues of democracy and human rights generally — had a muted response despite bipartisan pressure to show more support for a protest movement with open sympathies for the United States.

And even as he has lashed out at China’s government for its handling of the winter coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, helping to prompt the sharpest downturn in relations with Beijing in decades, Mr. Trump has taken care not to insult or offend Mr. Xi. Because of the pandemic’s economic toll, China has yet to meet purchasing demands outlined in a January trade agreement between the two nations. Mr. Trump and his economic advisers would like to see the deal fulfilled to aid his re-election prospects.

But in recent months the Trump campaign has increasingly focused on its message of China as a villainous threat to American economic and security interests, while portraying Mr. Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as too conciliatory toward Beijing. Mr. Trump has repeatedly muddied that message with his deferential tone toward Mr. Xi.

“Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community,” Morgan Ortagus, a State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday.

“We urge Beijing to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration — including that Hong Kong will ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy’ and that people of Hong Kong will enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms — which are key to preserving Hong Kong’s special status in international affairs and, consistent with U.S. law, the United States’ current treatment of Hong Kong,” she said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the State Department has yet to issue to Congress a mandatory report examining the autonomous status of Hong Kong in order to gauge continuing actions from Beijing before coming to a conclusion. The department might recommend that the United States no longer give Hong Kong preferential treatment as a territory that has autonomy under China.

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By midday Thursday, Senators Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, announced that they would propose legislation to impose sanctions on Chinese officials and entities that enforce the planned national security laws.

The measure would also impose sanctions on banks that do business with entities deemed to violate the Basic Law, a legal document that is supposed to guarantee Hong Kong significant autonomy until 2047.

“The communist regime in Beijing would like nothing more than to extinguish the autonomy of Hong Kong and the rights of its people,” Mr. Toomey said in a statement. “In many ways, Hong Kong is the canary in the coal mine for Asia. Beijing’s growing interference could have a chilling effect on other nations struggling for freedom in China’s shadow.”

China’s attempted crackdown on Hong Kong has been a rare cause for unity between the parties, with both liberals and conservatives rallying to the cause of democracy and condemning Mr. Xi’s increasingly authoritarian impulses.

“The USA cannot let this stand,” Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri and a staunch Trump ally and China hawk, wrote on Twitter. Mr. Hawley said he would introduce a Senate resolution “condemning this attempted crackdown” and calling on “all free nations to stand with” Hong Kong.

“This proposed legislation is a sign of Beijing’s weakness, not its strength,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Hong Kong’s special status is a benefit to China and the world. I don’t understand why Beijing continues to imperil that status with proposals such as this.”

Mr. Trump’s China policy has long been a battleground for dueling camps, usually featuring economic officials who favor a more conciliatory relationship and national security policymakers, led by Mr. Pompeo and senior National Security Council aides, who view China as a dangerous strategic rival that must be checked.

At the height of Mr. Trump’s trade negotiations with China in 2018 and 2019, the economy-centric view seemed to prevail and helped to explain Mr. Trump’s repeated fulsome praise of Mr. Xi as a “brilliant leader” and a “great man.”


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated May 20, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      Over 38 million people have filed for unemployment since March. One in five who were working in February reported losing a job or being furloughed in March or the beginning of April, data from a Federal Reserve survey released on May 14 showed, and that pain was highly concentrated among low earners. Fully 39 percent of former workers living in a household earning $40,000 or less lost work, compared with 13 percent in those making more than $100,000, a Fed official said.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Is ‘Covid toe’ a symptom of the disease?

      There is an uptick in people reporting symptoms of chilblains, which are painful red or purple lesions that typically appear in the winter on fingers or toes. The lesions are emerging as yet another symptom of infection with the new coronavirus. Chilblains are caused by inflammation in small blood vessels in reaction to cold or damp conditions, but they are usually common in the coldest winter months. Federal health officials do not include toe lesions in the list of coronavirus symptoms, but some dermatologists are pushing for a change, saying so-called Covid toe should be sufficient grounds for testing.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How can I help?

      Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities using a numbers-based system, has a running list of nonprofits working in communities affected by the outbreak. You can give blood through the American Red Cross, and World Central Kitchen has stepped in to distribute meals in major cities.


But the emergence of the coronavirus from Wuhan, and the Chinese government’s initial efforts to conceal it, enraged Mr. Trump, who saw his re-election imperiled as a result, and in recent weeks the hawkish camp has pressed the sinister theory, with no evidence, that the virus escaped from a Chinese lab.

On Wednesday, the National Security Council released a White House strategy document detailing a “competitive” American approach devised in part to “to compel Beijing to cease or reduce actions harmful to the United States’ vital, national interests and those of our allies and partners.”

The same day, the Trump administration angered Beijing by approving as much as $180 million in torpedo sales to Taiwan, whose de facto independence mainland China rejects but which the Trump administration strongly supports.

Mr. Trump did not give any indication on Thursday how he will react to the congressional effort to impose sanctions.

After Congress passed legislation last fall, Mr. Trump was noncommittal about whether he would sign the measure. But he eventually did on the evening before Thanksgiving, ensuring it gained minimal publicity.

This time his conservative allies are more adamant than ever that Mr. Trump must not look the other way. “I think this has absolutely got to be a line in the sand,” said Stephen K. Bannon, a former Trump White House strategist who now devotes much of his time to rallying conservatives to fight China’s communist leadership.

Regardless, experts said Beijing’s move would inevitably worsen a relationship that many already believe has become a kind of new Cold War.

“Beijing seems to have made the calculation that there is no financial price it won’t pay in order to eliminate the sight of millions of Chinese clamoring for democracy on a daily basis,” said Elizabeth Economy, the director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The Trump White House, unfortunately, has little leverage and even less influence with the Xi administration at this point,” she added. “Relations between the United States and China are essentially in a free fall.”

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Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’

Westlake Legal Group 00hkfuture-1-facebookJumbo Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’ Politics and Government parenting Labor and Jobs Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — Everywhere Ivan Lam looks, he sees his possible future.

On the news, he watches the Hong Kong police beating demonstrators. He sees masked protesters vowing to fight on. He reads reports of the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party and its campaign to lock away Muslims.

Conspiracy sites whisper about disappearances and suicides. On the street, outside the gleaming office tower where Mr. Lam, 24, just started his career at a multinational company, he sees officers in riot armor lining the sidewalk and watching for trouble.

Mr. Lam wants to stay in Hong Kong. But he is saving his money. He is making plans. If he has to, he will leave.

“I don’t know how all of this conflict is going to end,” he said, “so my future, like Hong Kong’s future, is unpredictable.”

Months of political turmoil have turned Hong Kong from a city of possibilities into a place of doubt and disillusion. Peaceful demonstrations have turned violent. Its economy is shrinking. Yet China’s leaders seem as determined as ever to do away with the high degree of autonomy they once promised, threatening to put Hong Kong further under Beijing’s authoritarian control.

That reality has upended the lives of the city’s seven million people. Plans to buy homes or have children have been put off. Families and friendships have been strained or broken.

And some — at least, those who have the option — wonder whether they should leave it all behind.

“Before this movement, things were already bad,” said Bessy Chan, a 45-year-old events manager, who is considering moving to Germany.

Ms. Chan, a Hong Kong native, was studying in Britain two decades ago when China took back the British colony after Beijing promised to preserve its freedoms and rule of law. She returned to Hong Kong, with hesitation, and found little had changed. Work kept her busy.

But the city’s high cost of living kept her from changing careers. She grew frustrated that Hong Kong officials devoted money to expensive but problem-plagued train and bridge projects that linked the city to the mainland instead of on affordable housing or education. She began to resent the crowds of mainland tourists.

This year, her sister’s husband got a job in Germany. Ms. Chan has begun to research graduate programs there. She is single, she reasoned, and the changing city has left her unmoored. Her parents, rather than mourning a family split, are happy about the move, she said.

“I have a niece who is 16 right now,” Ms. Chan said. “For a youngster at that age, I don’t see a future for her.”

Hong Kong’s future once looked bright. It benefited from China’s booming economy while maintaining its own system of laws. Its eventual absorption into the mainland, set to take place in 2047, seemed far away.

Soaring housing costs, fewer job opportunities and a rising income gap began to sully that image. But fewer people describe financial pressures as their main reason for wanting to leave the city these days, said Paul Yip, a professor and director at Hong Kong University whose studies show increased unhappiness and depression.

“Rather, they are talking about whether Hong Kong is a place where you want to raise your children,” Mr. Yip said. “That is more subtle and more serious.”

For those reasons, many residents have paused their life plans. Edmond Chan, a 29-year-old math teacher, and his girlfriend do not talk about getting married or starting a family anymore. They have discussed moving to Taiwan but cannot afford to.

Mr. Chan’s role has changed over the year from educator to counselor for students who cannot talk to their parents about the protests. He can no longer talk about the unrest with his own parents, who he says would rather not watch the news or discuss politics.

“We are very confused about how to teach a child that Hong Kong is a good place to live,” Mr. Chan said as he watched a recent lunchtime protest. When his own students come to him for guidance, he does not know what to say.

Official figures do not show whether more people are leaving Hong Kong than before, but the signs of interest are there. Applications for a certificate required to change citizenship have jumped by nearly three-quarters from a year ago, according to local data. Immigration consultants describe a flurry of requests for information. Fliers advertising investment-for-citizenship programs in other countries can be found in the lobbies of luxury apartment buildings.

Edward Suen, the 42-year-old owner of a marketing firm, is encouraging friends to explore that possibility, especially if they have children. “If you can afford it,” he said, “leave.”

Mr. Suen has himself vowed to stay and support the protests. He was galvanized after participating in Hong Kong’s first major street march this year, in June, which organizers said had drawn one million people. City leaders rejected their demands.

Days later, during a meeting on a work trip, Mr. Suen held his phone surreptitiously under the table and watched a video of police officers firing tear gas at protesters surrounding Hong Kong’s legislative building.

“I almost cried in my meeting,” he said, “to see how the police were against all the peaceful protesters.”

Mr. Suen now spends weekends coordinating drivers who ferry protesters to and from demonstrations. He has built a network of volunteers. He tries to be optimistic.

“In Hong Kong, everyone wants to win the lottery,” Mr. Suen said. “We know we won’t win, so why do we keep buying tickets? Because we have hope.”

Gary Fung has chosen to stay as well. Once pro-establishment, the spry 59-year-old barrister began to participate in protests — “Only the legal demonstrations!” he said — and has been shocked at the police’s behavior.

“I saw many of them breaching the law,” Mr. Fung said.

He obtained a British passport in 1991 ahead of the 1997 handover, but he chose to confront his fears of China instead. In 2007, he traveled to Tiananmen Square in Beijing and sat in quiet protest on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre. Now, he wants to fight to preserve Hong Kong’s legal autonomy.

“I’m proud of our legal system because of my background,” Mr. Fung said. “I want to turn it back.”

Protests have ebbed since November’s elections for district councils gave the pro-democracy movement a decisive victory. Still, tensions lurk in offices and homes.

Carrie Lai, a 45-year-old events and public relations executive, has trouble avoiding shouting matches at family dinners. On the day of the elections, over appetizers, her brother-in-law suggested that one pro-democracy candidate had organized an attack against himself by hammer-wielding thugs to win sympathy. Ms. Lai froze, soup spoon suspended midair and face flushed, and opened her mouth to speak. Her sister-in-law jumped in and changed the subject.

“Everyone is on alert mode,” Ms. Lai said.

Ms. Lai has an Australian passport because she lived there as a teenager, but for now she plans to stay in Hong Kong. Her husband lacks an Australian passport. She also cannot imagine leaving now, at a time when she feels the protest movement needs her.

“It’s not that moment yet,” she said. If things get really bad, Ms. Lai said, her participation in protests could make a difference.

Mr. Lam is less certain he can change the future.

The son of a civil servant and a retail manager, Mr. Lam took all the right steps to climb Hong Kong’s social and economic ladders. He went to school abroad, in Manchester, England. He got a job as a recruiter at a prominent agency. He started dating someone seriously. His life in Hong Kong appeared to be set.

Now, he watches with dismay at Beijing’s increasing role in the city’s affairs. He fears the Communist Party will harness Hong Kong’s growth engine while squelching its culture.

“They want to use us,” he said, “but at the same time they want to change us.”

The protests at times have consumed Hong Kong’s central business district, where Mr. Lam works. During a recent lunchtime protest, he watched as an older man crossing the street was suddenly tackled by riot police officers. As the man was searched, a wailing police van arrived. Officers pushed the man inside. An older woman shouted that the man had done nothing wrong.

“That’s our future,” Mr. Lam said.

Mr. Lam consumes the news. He reads rumor sites and chat rooms and fires off links to acquaintances, even as he acknowledges that he does not know whether they are true.

Mr. Lam and his girlfriend discuss where they might go. She wants to go into a tourism-related business, a skill set that he reasons is portable. Japan comes up a lot in their talks. Britain, too.

Still, Mr. Lam doesn’t want to leave. At least, not yet.

“I love this place, and I wanted to develop my career here,” he said. “This is my home.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’

Westlake Legal Group 00hkfuture-1-facebookJumbo Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’ Politics and Government parenting Labor and Jobs Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — Everywhere Ivan Lam looks, he sees his possible future.

On the news, he watches the Hong Kong police beating demonstrators. He sees masked protesters vowing to fight on. He reads reports of the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party and its campaign to lock away Muslims.

Conspiracy sites whisper about disappearances and suicides. On the street, outside the gleaming office tower where Mr. Lam, 24, just started his career at a multinational company, he sees officers in riot armor lining the sidewalk and watching for trouble.

Mr. Lam wants to stay in Hong Kong. But he is saving his money. He is making plans. If he has to, he will leave.

“I don’t know how all of this conflict is going to end,” he said, “so my future, like Hong Kong’s future, is unpredictable.”

Months of political turmoil have turned Hong Kong from a city of possibilities into a place of doubt and disillusion. Peaceful demonstrations have turned violent. Its economy is shrinking. Yet China’s leaders seem as determined as ever to do away with the high degree of autonomy they once promised, threatening to put Hong Kong further under Beijing’s authoritarian control.

That reality has upended the lives of the city’s seven million people. Plans to buy homes or have children have been put off. Families and friendships have been strained or broken.

And some — at least, those who have the option — wonder whether they should leave it all behind.

“Before this movement, things were already bad,” said Bessy Chan, a 45-year-old events manager, who is considering moving to Germany.

Ms. Chan, a Hong Kong native, was studying in Britain two decades ago when China took back the British colony after Beijing promised to preserve its freedoms and rule of law. She returned to Hong Kong, with hesitation, and found little had changed. Work kept her busy.

But the city’s high cost of living kept her from changing careers. She grew frustrated that Hong Kong officials devoted money to expensive but problem-plagued train and bridge projects that linked the city to the mainland instead of on affordable housing or education. She began to resent the crowds of mainland tourists.

This year, her sister’s husband got a job in Germany. Ms. Chan has begun to research graduate programs there. She is single, she reasoned, and the changing city has left her unmoored. Her parents, rather than mourning a family split, are happy about the move, she said.

“I have a niece who is 16 right now,” Ms. Chan said. “For a youngster at that age, I don’t see a future for her.”

Hong Kong’s future once looked bright. It benefited from China’s booming economy while maintaining its own system of laws. Its eventual absorption into the mainland, set to take place in 2047, seemed far away.

Soaring housing costs, fewer job opportunities and a rising income gap began to sully that image. But fewer people describe financial pressures as their main reason for wanting to leave the city these days, said Paul Yip, a professor and director at Hong Kong University whose studies show increased unhappiness and depression.

“Rather, they are talking about whether Hong Kong is a place where you want to raise your children,” Mr. Yip said. “That is more subtle and more serious.”

For those reasons, many residents have paused their life plans. Edmond Chan, a 29-year-old math teacher, and his girlfriend do not talk about getting married or starting a family anymore. They have discussed moving to Taiwan but cannot afford to.

Mr. Chan’s role has changed over the year from educator to counselor for students who cannot talk to their parents about the protests. He can no longer talk about the unrest with his own parents, who he says would rather not watch the news or discuss politics.

“We are very confused about how to teach a child that Hong Kong is a good place to live,” Mr. Chan said as he watched a recent lunchtime protest. When his own students come to him for guidance, he does not know what to say.

Official figures do not show whether more people are leaving Hong Kong than before, but the signs of interest are there. Applications for a certificate required to change citizenship have jumped by nearly three-quarters from a year ago, according to local data. Immigration consultants describe a flurry of requests for information. Fliers advertising investment-for-citizenship programs in other countries can be found in the lobbies of luxury apartment buildings.

Edward Suen, the 42-year-old owner of a marketing firm, is encouraging friends to explore that possibility, especially if they have children. “If you can afford it,” he said, “leave.”

Mr. Suen has himself vowed to stay and support the protests. He was galvanized after participating in Hong Kong’s first major street march this year, in June, which organizers said had drawn one million people. City leaders rejected their demands.

Days later, during a meeting on a work trip, Mr. Suen held his phone surreptitiously under the table and watched a video of police officers firing tear gas at protesters surrounding Hong Kong’s legislative building.

“I almost cried in my meeting,” he said, “to see how the police were against all the peaceful protesters.”

Mr. Suen now spends weekends coordinating drivers who ferry protesters to and from demonstrations. He has built a network of volunteers. He tries to be optimistic.

“In Hong Kong, everyone wants to win the lottery,” Mr. Suen said. “We know we won’t win, so why do we keep buying tickets? Because we have hope.”

Gary Fung has chosen to stay as well. Once pro-establishment, the spry 59-year-old barrister began to participate in protests — “Only the legal demonstrations!” he said — and has been shocked at the police’s behavior.

“I saw many of them breaching the law,” Mr. Fung said.

He obtained a British passport in 1991 ahead of the 1997 handover, but he chose to confront his fears of China instead. In 2007, he traveled to Tiananmen Square in Beijing and sat in quiet protest on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre. Now, he wants to fight to preserve Hong Kong’s legal autonomy.

“I’m proud of our legal system because of my background,” Mr. Fung said. “I want to turn it back.”

Protests have ebbed since November’s elections for district councils gave the pro-democracy movement a decisive victory. Still, tensions lurk in offices and homes.

Carrie Lai, a 45-year-old events and public relations executive, has trouble avoiding shouting matches at family dinners. On the day of the elections, over appetizers, her brother-in-law suggested that one pro-democracy candidate had organized an attack against himself by hammer-wielding thugs to win sympathy. Ms. Lai froze, soup spoon suspended midair and face flushed, and opened her mouth to speak. Her sister-in-law jumped in and changed the subject.

“Everyone is on alert mode,” Ms. Lai said.

Ms. Lai has an Australian passport because she lived there as a teenager, but for now she plans to stay in Hong Kong. Her husband lacks an Australian passport. She also cannot imagine leaving now, at a time when she feels the protest movement needs her.

“It’s not that moment yet,” she said. If things get really bad, Ms. Lai said, her participation in protests could make a difference.

Mr. Lam is less certain he can change the future.

The son of a civil servant and a retail manager, Mr. Lam took all the right steps to climb Hong Kong’s social and economic ladders. He went to school abroad, in Manchester, England. He got a job as a recruiter at a prominent agency. He started dating someone seriously. His life in Hong Kong appeared to be set.

Now, he watches with dismay at Beijing’s increasing role in the city’s affairs. He fears the Communist Party will harness Hong Kong’s growth engine while squelching its culture.

“They want to use us,” he said, “but at the same time they want to change us.”

The protests at times have consumed Hong Kong’s central business district, where Mr. Lam works. During a recent lunchtime protest, he watched as an older man crossing the street was suddenly tackled by riot police officers. As the man was searched, a wailing police van arrived. Officers pushed the man inside. An older woman shouted that the man had done nothing wrong.

“That’s our future,” Mr. Lam said.

Mr. Lam consumes the news. He reads rumor sites and chat rooms and fires off links to acquaintances, even as he acknowledges that he does not know whether they are true.

Mr. Lam and his girlfriend discuss where they might go. She wants to go into a tourism-related business, a skill set that he reasons is portable. Japan comes up a lot in their talks. Britain, too.

Still, Mr. Lam doesn’t want to leave. At least, not yet.

“I love this place, and I wanted to develop my career here,” he said. “This is my home.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’

Westlake Legal Group 00hkfuture-1-facebookJumbo Hong Kong Considers the Future: ‘If You Can Afford It, Leave’ Politics and Government parenting Labor and Jobs Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Economic Conditions and Trends Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

HONG KONG — Everywhere Ivan Lam looks, he sees his possible future.

On the news, he watches the Hong Kong police beating demonstrators. He sees masked protesters vowing to fight on. He reads reports of the growing power of the Chinese Communist Party and its campaign to lock away Muslims.

Conspiracy sites whisper about disappearances and suicides. On the street, outside the gleaming office tower where Mr. Lam, 24, just started his career at a multinational company, he sees officers in riot armor lining the sidewalk and watching for trouble.

Mr. Lam wants to stay in Hong Kong. But he is saving his money. He is making plans. If he has to, he will leave.

“I don’t know how all of this conflict is going to end,” he said, “so my future, like Hong Kong’s future, is unpredictable.”

Months of political turmoil have turned Hong Kong from a city of possibilities into a place of doubt and disillusion. Peaceful demonstrations have turned violent. Its economy is shrinking. Yet China’s leaders seem as determined as ever to do away with the high degree of autonomy they once promised, threatening to put Hong Kong further under Beijing’s authoritarian control.

That reality has upended the lives of the city’s seven million people. Plans to buy homes or have children have been put off. Families and friendships have been strained or broken.

And some — at least, those who have the option — wonder whether they should leave it all behind.

“Before this movement, things were already bad,” said Bessy Chan, a 45-year-old events manager, who is considering moving to Germany.

Ms. Chan, a Hong Kong native, was studying in Britain two decades ago when China took back the British colony after Beijing promised to preserve its freedoms and rule of law. She returned to Hong Kong, with hesitation, and found little had changed. Work kept her busy.

But the city’s high cost of living kept her from changing careers. She grew frustrated that Hong Kong officials devoted money to expensive but problem-plagued train and bridge projects that linked the city to the mainland instead of on affordable housing or education. She began to resent the crowds of mainland tourists.

This year, her sister’s husband got a job in Germany. Ms. Chan has begun to research graduate programs there. She is single, she reasoned, and the changing city has left her unmoored. Her parents, rather than mourning a family split, are happy about the move, she said.

“I have a niece who is 16 right now,” Ms. Chan said. “For a youngster at that age, I don’t see a future for her.”

Hong Kong’s future once looked bright. It benefited from China’s booming economy while maintaining its own system of laws. Its eventual absorption into the mainland, set to take place in 2047, seemed far away.

Soaring housing costs, fewer job opportunities and a rising income gap began to sully that image. But fewer people describe financial pressures as their main reason for wanting to leave the city these days, said Paul Yip, a professor and director at Hong Kong University whose studies show increased unhappiness and depression.

“Rather, they are talking about whether Hong Kong is a place where you want to raise your children,” Mr. Yip said. “That is more subtle and more serious.”

For those reasons, many residents have paused their life plans. Edmond Chan, a 29-year-old math teacher, and his girlfriend do not talk about getting married or starting a family anymore. They have discussed moving to Taiwan but cannot afford to.

Mr. Chan’s role has changed over the year from educator to counselor for students who cannot talk to their parents about the protests. He can no longer talk about the unrest with his own parents, who he says would rather not watch the news or discuss politics.

“We are very confused about how to teach a child that Hong Kong is a good place to live,” Mr. Chan said as he watched a recent lunchtime protest. When his own students come to him for guidance, he does not know what to say.

Official figures do not show whether more people are leaving Hong Kong than before, but the signs of interest are there. Applications for a certificate required to change citizenship have jumped by nearly three-quarters from a year ago, according to local data. Immigration consultants describe a flurry of requests for information. Fliers advertising investment-for-citizenship programs in other countries can be found in the lobbies of luxury apartment buildings.

Edward Suen, the 42-year-old owner of a marketing firm, is encouraging friends to explore that possibility, especially if they have children. “If you can afford it,” he said, “leave.”

Mr. Suen has himself vowed to stay and support the protests. He was galvanized after participating in Hong Kong’s first major street march this year, in June, which organizers said had drawn one million people. City leaders rejected their demands.

Days later, during a meeting on a work trip, Mr. Suen held his phone surreptitiously under the table and watched a video of police officers firing tear gas at protesters surrounding Hong Kong’s legislative building.

“I almost cried in my meeting,” he said, “to see how the police were against all the peaceful protesters.”

Mr. Suen now spends weekends coordinating drivers who ferry protesters to and from demonstrations. He has built a network of volunteers. He tries to be optimistic.

“In Hong Kong, everyone wants to win the lottery,” Mr. Suen said. “We know we won’t win, so why do we keep buying tickets? Because we have hope.”

Gary Fung has chosen to stay as well. Once pro-establishment, the spry 59-year-old barrister began to participate in protests — “Only the legal demonstrations!” he said — and has been shocked at the police’s behavior.

“I saw many of them breaching the law,” Mr. Fung said.

He obtained a British passport in 1991 ahead of the 1997 handover, but he chose to confront his fears of China instead. In 2007, he traveled to Tiananmen Square in Beijing and sat in quiet protest on the anniversary of the 1989 massacre. Now, he wants to fight to preserve Hong Kong’s legal autonomy.

“I’m proud of our legal system because of my background,” Mr. Fung said. “I want to turn it back.”

Protests have ebbed since November’s elections for district councils gave the pro-democracy movement a decisive victory. Still, tensions lurk in offices and homes.

Carrie Lai, a 45-year-old events and public relations executive, has trouble avoiding shouting matches at family dinners. On the day of the elections, over appetizers, her brother-in-law suggested that one pro-democracy candidate had organized an attack against himself by hammer-wielding thugs to win sympathy. Ms. Lai froze, soup spoon suspended midair and face flushed, and opened her mouth to speak. Her sister-in-law jumped in and changed the subject.

“Everyone is on alert mode,” Ms. Lai said.

Ms. Lai has an Australian passport because she lived there as a teenager, but for now she plans to stay in Hong Kong. Her husband lacks an Australian passport. She also cannot imagine leaving now, at a time when she feels the protest movement needs her.

“It’s not that moment yet,” she said. If things get really bad, Ms. Lai said, her participation in protests could make a difference.

Mr. Lam is less certain he can change the future.

The son of a civil servant and a retail manager, Mr. Lam took all the right steps to climb Hong Kong’s social and economic ladders. He went to school abroad, in Manchester, England. He got a job as a recruiter at a prominent agency. He started dating someone seriously. His life in Hong Kong appeared to be set.

Now, he watches with dismay at Beijing’s increasing role in the city’s affairs. He fears the Communist Party will harness Hong Kong’s growth engine while squelching its culture.

“They want to use us,” he said, “but at the same time they want to change us.”

The protests at times have consumed Hong Kong’s central business district, where Mr. Lam works. During a recent lunchtime protest, he watched as an older man crossing the street was suddenly tackled by riot police officers. As the man was searched, a wailing police van arrived. Officers pushed the man inside. An older woman shouted that the man had done nothing wrong.

“That’s our future,” Mr. Lam said.

Mr. Lam consumes the news. He reads rumor sites and chat rooms and fires off links to acquaintances, even as he acknowledges that he does not know whether they are true.

Mr. Lam and his girlfriend discuss where they might go. She wants to go into a tourism-related business, a skill set that he reasons is portable. Japan comes up a lot in their talks. Britain, too.

Still, Mr. Lam doesn’t want to leave. At least, not yet.

“I love this place, and I wanted to develop my career here,” he said. “This is my home.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hong Kong Protest, Largest in Weeks, Stretches Several Miles

HONG KONG — Hundreds of thousands of protesters, basking in a recent election victory by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, poured onto the city’s streets on Sunday in one of the largest marches in weeks to pressure the government to meet demands for greater civil liberties.

The huge turnout was a reminder to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, that the monthslong campaign against his authoritarian policies still had broad support in Hong Kong despite a weakening economy and increasingly violent clashes between protesters and the police.

Tensions in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous territory, had eased somewhat in recent days, after pro-democracy advocates won a stunning victory in local elections two weeks ago, giving new hope to the movement.

On Sunday, demonstrators returned in force, packing city streets to denounce Mr. Xi’s government, rail against police brutality and reiterate demands for greater civil liberties, including universal suffrage. They beat drums, sang protest anthems and chanted. “Fight for freedom.” Though the march was largely peaceful, some demonstrators vandalized shops and restaurants and lit a fire outside the high court.

“We want Hong Kong to continue being Hong Kong,” said Alice Wong, 24, a biology researcher who stood among protesters gathered at Victoria Park. “We don’t want to become like China.”

As many as 800,000 people attended the march, according to Civil Human Rights Front, an advocacy group that organized the gathering.

The mood at the march was relaxed, with people taking selfies against a backdrop of the vast crowds. Children, some dressed in black, marched with their parents, holding hands as they shouted, “Stand with Hong Kong!”

A sea of protesters, spread across two miles, filled major thoroughfares as they moved between towering skyscrapers. In some areas, there were so many people that the crowds moved at a snail’s pace and spilled into adjacent alleys. Some small businesses encouraged the turnout by promising giveaways if over a million people joined the march.

The protesters said they intended to remain peaceful on Sunday, but some vowed to use more aggressive tactics if the police cracked down. In the evening, the police readied canisters of tear gas as they stood opposite crowds of protesters who had barricaded a street downtown in a briefly tense moment.

The large turnout could further embolden the movement’s confrontational front-line protesters, who said they planned to disrupt the city’s roads and public transportation system on Monday. The call for further action seemed to resonate among some protesters on Sunday.

“If the government still refuses to acknowledge our demands after today, we should and will escalate our protests,” said Tamara Wong, 33, an office worker who wore a black mask as she stood among the crowd gathered at Victoria Park.

The protesters have demanded amnesty for activists who were arrested and accused of rioting, as well as an independent investigation of police conduct during the demonstrations.

Despite the show of strength on Sunday, it is unlikely that the protesters will win further concessions from Beijing, which has worked to portray demonstrators as rioters colluding with foreign governments to topple the governing Communist Party.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165610917_1ecff3a6-f1f8-4897-a54c-5e0f30884e86-articleLarge Hong Kong Protest, Largest in Weeks, Stretches Several Miles United States International Relations United States Chamber of Commerce Politics and Government Macau Hong Kong Protests (2019) Hong Kong Demonstrations, Protests and Riots China

The march was meant to coincide with the United Nations’ Human Rights Day and was authorized by the Hong Kong Police.Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Mr. Xi, who has cultivated an image as a hard-line leader, has demanded “unswerving efforts to stop and punish violent activities” in Hong Kong. He has publicly endorsed the city’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, to bring an end to the unrest.

Chinese officials have suggested that the United States is responsible for helping to fuel unrest in Hong Kong, pointing to statements by American officials in support of the protests. Last month, President Trump signed tough legislation that authorizes sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for rights abuses in Hong Kong. The move was welcomed by many protesters but also seen as exacerbating tensions between the two countries.

In a possible sign of increased scrutiny of American citizens working in Hong Kong, two leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong said on Saturday that they had been denied entry to Macau, a semiautonomous Chinese city. Mr. Xi is expected to visit Macau this month to mark the 20th anniversary of the former Portuguese colony’s return to China.

Tara Joseph and Robert Grieves, the president and the chairman of the American business group, said they had planned to attend an annual ball put on by the chamber’s Macau branch.

“We hope that this is just an overreaction to current events and that international business can constructively forge ahead,” Ms. Joseph said.

The protests, which began in June in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, has hurt the tourism and retail sectors, pushing the city’s economy into recession.

In recent weeks, the violence has escalated, with protesters intensifying their efforts to vandalize businesses and subway stations they associate with being hostile to the movement. The police shot an antigovernment protester last month, inflaming tensions. Then, in some of the worst violence, universities became battlefields, with black-clad students hurling gasoline bombs, throwing bricks and aiming arrows at riot police, who shot rubber bullets and fired tear gas in return.

Many demonstrators acknowledge that a compromise with the government is unlikely, despite recent victories. Mrs. Lam, the city’s leader, who is under pressure from Beijing to restore order without weakening the government’s position, has brushed aside their demands and has warned that the mayhem could “take Hong Kong to the road of ruin.”

Government officials have cast the demonstrations as primarily centered on economic issues, arguing that vast inequality in Hong Kong has exacerbated anger among the city’s youth. They rolled out emergency measures recently to counter the effects of the turmoil on the economy, including providing electricity subsidies to businesses and expanding job training for young people.

The authorities have justified their efforts to crack down on the movement by saying that protesters are endangering public safety. On Sunday, the police said they had found a 9- millimeter semiautomatic pistol, five magazines, 105 bullets and two ballistic vests, as well as fireworks, among other items, during a series of early morning raids.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the Hong Kong Police said early in the day that officers had received information that the firearm and fireworks would have been used on Sunday to create chaos.

The police have in recent months banned many protests and rallies in Hong Kong, citing safety concerns. But the government granted a rare approval for the march on Sunday, which was organized by the Civil Human Rights Front to mark the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.

Demonstrators said they believed that the turnout sent a strong message: The protest movement would not back down.

“If the government thinks that we will give up,” said Adam Wong, 23, a university student who was waving a black flag, “today’s turnout will prove them delusional.”

Katherine Li and Ezra Cheung contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com