If you’ve been following the turmoil in Hong Kong you know that the residents of the port city on China’s southern coastline have been protesting an encroachment of its sovereignty by the mainland. It started recently when an extradition bill was passed by China, which would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kongers to the mainland to stand trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, which is notorious for silencing critics and punishing dissidents. Although the 7.5 million population of Hong Kong is geographically part of China, it has been a British colony since 1841, after the Opium Wars. Since then, Hong Kong has flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over the colony.
Although that ended in 1997, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang signed an agreement to return Hong Kong to China in return for terms guaranteeing a 50-year extension of its capitalist system and its independent judiciary. Known as a Special Administrative Region (SAR), the former colony was assured it could maintain autonomy. Thus, when the extradition bill threatened that self-governance, Hong Kong residents took to the streets in massive demonstrations seeking to keep the mainland from encroaching on their freedom. Those freedom fighters have carried our American Flag during their protests and have called on the United States for help. Last week, China announced that they would scrap the hugely unpopular extradition bill, which had caused the sudden uprising. Nevertheless, it appears that China has awakened a sleeping giant that has tasted freedom and refuses to relinquish it to the sinister dictatorship that hovers over it like a vulture eyeing its weakened prey.
U.S. legislation addressing potential actions by the Chinese regime in Hong Kong is likely to be discussed in the Senate when Congress returns to work after a recess. A bipartisan bill is proposing to require an annual justification of the special treatment afforded by Washington to Hong Kong, including special trade and business privileges. The legislation, called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would also mandate that officials in China and Hong Kong who have undermined the city’s autonomy are vulnerable to sanctions. Last month, President Trump suggested China should “humanely” settle the problem in Hong Kong before a trade deal is reached with Washington.
Frisco, Texas businesswoman and Republican Conservative political activist Veronica Birkenstock recently traveled to Hong Kong to support the freedom-fighters. Ms. Birkenstock, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the GOP nomination to Congress in Texas’ 26th District, has made several trips to Asia in the past few years. As President of Frisco-based Practical Employee Solutions, she provides legal, temporary, unskilled labor, specializing in the H-2B visa processing system. I invited her for an interview to bring us up to date on what’s happening on the ground in that very volatile region of the world. Ms. Birkenstock talks about her visit with some of the leaders in the movement to keep Beijing from violating their sovereignty.