First it was the US Congress, via Reuters:
The U.S. Senate, in a unanimous vote, passed legislation on Tuesday aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong amid China’s crackdown on a pro-democracy protest movement that has gripped the vital financial center for months.
Following the voice vote by senators, the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” now goes to the House of Representatives, which earlier approved its own version of the measure. The two chambers will have to work out their differences before any legislation can be sent to President Donald Trump for his consideration.
The Senate then passed a second bill, also unanimously, that would ban the export of certain munitions to Hong Kong police forces. It bans the export of items such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.
…That official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said if the measure gets to Trump’s desk there would likely be an intense debate between Trump aides worried that it could undermine trade talks with China and those who believe it is the time to take a stand against China on human rights and Hong Kong’s status.
Then the inevtiable glass-jawed response:
On November 19th, the US Senate passed the “Hong Kong Bill of Rights on Human Rights and Democracy.” The bill disregards the facts, confuses right and wrong, violates the axioms, plays with double standards, openly intervenes in Hong Kong affairs, interferes in China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates the basic norms of international law and international relations. The Chinese side strongly condemns and resolutely opposes this.
In the past five months, the persistent violent criminal acts in Hong Kong have seriously jeopardized the safety of the public’s life and property, seriously trampled on the rule of law and social order, seriously undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and seriously challenged the bottom line of the “one country, two systems” principle. At present, what Hong Kong faces is not the so-called human rights and democracy issues, but the issue of ending the storms, maintaining the rule of law and restoring order as soon as possible. The Chinese central government will continue to firmly support the Hong Kong SAR Government in its administration of the law, firmly support the Hong Kong police in law enforcement, and firmly support the Hong Kong Judiciary in punishing violent criminals in accordance with the law, protecting the lives and property of Hong Kong residents and maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, the practice of “one country, two systems” has achieved universally recognized success. Hong Kong residents enjoy unprecedented democratic rights and fully exercise various freedoms in accordance with the law. The relevant bills of the US Congress completely ignore the objective facts and completely ignore the well-being of Hong Kong residents. For the ulterior political purpose, the Hong Kong violent elements are smashed, bullying and attacking innocent citizens, forcibly occupying the campus and besieging young students. Organized attacks on the police and other criminal acts are striving for the pursuit of “human rights” and “democracy”. The purpose is to support the extremist forces and violent elements in the anti-China chaos and to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability so that they can borrow Hong Kong. The problem hinders the sinister plot of China’s development. This bad behavior of the United States not only harms China’s interests, but also undermines the important interests of the United States itself in Hong Kong. Any attempt by the US to intervene in China’s internal affairs and hinder China’s development will not succeed. In the end, it will only be a waste of effort.
I want to stress once again that Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong and Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. We are telling the US to recognize the situation and take the plunge. We will immediately take measures to prevent the case from becoming a law. We will immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs so as not to ignite the fire and suffer from self-sufficiency.
If the US side is willing to go its own way, China will surely take effective measures to resolutely counteract and firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests.
It is anybody’s guess where this ends up but for now stocks that were already hurting from WBC are now crumbling:
The Australian dollar is hit:
And bonds are back:
It would be fantastic to see the US take a stand but I am not holding my breath.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.