英文

下一篇

Editorial : HK Human Rights and Democracy Act

【明報專訊】US president Donald Trump has officially signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It remains to be seen what the Chinese government's countermeasures will be. However, it is certain that Washington has vastly adjusted its policies towards Hong Kong, and the antagonism between China and the US has risen in gravity and intensity. This will definitely manifest itself in the "battleground" of Hong Kong.

The Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the US might be bitter enemies, but they are increasingly aligned in their policies towards China. Hindering China's rise and preventing China from challenging the US's status have become a consensus of the two parties. Last week, the US Senate and House of Representatives adopted the final version of the Act with almost no opposition. It was to come into force pending the president's signature. The Beijing authorities made several moves to raise the issue with the US and protest the act. Not only did they summon the US ambassador to China, but Yang Jiechi, who is in charge of foreign affairs, even openly warned that the act would severely harm China's interests and pleaded with the US to prevent the act from becoming law.

Theoretically, Donald Trump had several options concerning how to handle the act. He could have chosen to do nothing instead of signing it. That way, the act would have become law automatically ten days after its passage in Congress. He could have vetoed the act and put the ball back in Congress's court. He could have persuaded Congress not to veto the president's decision, or he could have waited quietly for Congress to veto the president's decision by a two-thirds majority. To Trump, each option carried different political overtones. Allowing the act to come into force automatically would have meant low-key acquiescence. Vetoing the act would have been a friendly gesture to China. Even if the two chambers of Congress had exercised their ultimate right of veto to bring the act into effect, Trump could have said to China that that was not his decision so as to minimise the impact of the incident on the trade talks. But Trump ultimately chose to disregard China's opposition and sign the act into law himself.

Foreign news agencies claim that Trump's decision was related to the pan-democrats' landslide victory in the District Council elections. While it is impossible to validate this theory, public opinion in the US has clearly put some pressure on Trump. Opinion polls show that nearly 70% of Americans are for expressing support for Hong Kong protesters. Furthermore, as the Senate and the House of Representatives adopted the act almost unanimously, Trump could have been suspected of taking a weak stance on China if he had vetoed the act. That would have given fodder to his opponents and would have been detrimental to his re-election bid.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is angry that the act has been signed into law and has criticised the US for "harbouring a malicious intent and being a hegemony in nature". This reflects that China is elevating the matter to a level that concerns the US's strategic intent. As the US has discarded its veneer of friendliness to adopt the act, China is unlikely to let it slide. Even if reaching a trade deal for the first phase will be in China's interests, it is far from certain that the trade talks will not be affected. At present it is difficult to predict what kind of countermeasure China will take. Given what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said, the intensity of the countermeasures will depend on how "single-mindedly" the US will execute the sanctions.

明報社評2019.11.29:港成中美長期「戰場」 法案簽署僅屬序曲

美國總統特朗普正式簽署《香港人權與民主法案》(下稱《法案》),中方有何反制措施,尚待觀察,可以肯定的是華府對港政策有重大調整,中美對抗的深度和烈度上升到了新的層次,並必然會在香港這個「戰場」呈現出來。

美國民主共和兩黨鬥得你死我活,可是在對華政策方面卻愈來愈一致,遏阻中國崛起挑戰美國地位,成為了兩黨共識。上周,美國參眾兩院在幾乎無人反對之下,通過了《法案》最終版本,一待總統簽署,便可正式生效。北京多次向美方提出交涉和抗議,除了傳召美國駐華大使,主管外交事務的楊潔篪更公開警告,《法案》嚴重損害中方利益,敦促美方阻止該法案成為法律。

如何處理《法案》,特朗普理論上有多項選擇。除了簽署外,他可以選擇什麼事也不做,任由《法案》在國會通過10天後自動生效;他亦可以否決《法案》,將皮球再度踢給國會;他可以游說國會不要否決總統的決定,也可以靜待參眾兩院以三分之二多數,推翻總統決定。對特朗普來說,每項選擇背後所傳達的政治信息各有不同。容許自動生效的含意是低調默許;否決《法案》屬於向中方示好的姿態,就算之後兩院行使終極否決權,讓《法案》生效,特朗普也可以向中方說,這不是他的決定,藉以減少事件對兩國貿易談判的影響。不過特朗普最後選擇的,仍是不理中方反對,親自簽署法案。

外電指特朗普這一決定與區議會選舉民主派大勝有關,是耶非耶無從肯定,惟美國輿論顯然對特朗普構成一定壓力。民調顯示近七成美國人支持表態撐香港示威者,加上參眾兩院近乎一致通過《法案》,特朗普如果否決《法案》,有可能被質疑對華軟弱,成為政敵攻擊把柄,不利爭取連任。

外交部不滿《法案》簽署成法,抨擊美國「險惡用心和霸權本質」,反映中方將事態提升到美方戰略意圖的高度。美方不惜撕破臉通過法案,中方勢難善罷,就算盡快達成首階段貿易協議符合中方經濟利益,也難保貿易談判不受影響。中方有何具體反制措施,目前難以預料,觀乎外交部說法,反制力度有多強,將視乎美方會否「一意孤行」執行制裁措施。

■Glossary

validate : to prove that sth is true

veneer : an outer appearance of a particular quality that hides the true nature of sb/sth

single-mindedly : having one driving purpose or resolve : determined, dedicated

上 / 下一篇新聞