Chinese President Xi Jinping suffered twin blows to his approach to Hong Kong this week: first on Sunday when democrats dominated local elections, and then a few days later when U.S. President Donald Trump signed legislation on human rights in the city.
Additionally, the law paves the way for sanctions on both Chinese and Hong Kong officials who have violated human rights in the city.
Mr Trump is now seeking a deal with China, in order to end a trade war between the two countries. However, he signed the bill in hopes that China and Hong Kong will settle their differences in a peaceful manner.
That would hurt mainland China, which relies on Hong Kong as a financial hub whose rule of law allows connections to outside investors wary of China's ambiguous system - but it would also hurt US and Hong Kong interests.
Despite having signaled for several days that he was unsure about supporting the bill in the midst of ongoing trade negations with China, Trump ultimately backed down and revealed he had signed it in a late-night holiday news dump.
What does the law say?
The bill, which would impose sanctions on Chinese officials for cracking down on the protesters, passed the House and Senate last week with almost unanimous support.
He suggested Hong Kong was being used as a "proxy" for China and the legislation was a way to hit back at Beijing. If there was an antithesis to Antifa, it's the Hong Kong protesters.
Among other things, Hong Kong's special trading status means it is not affected by U.S. sanctions or tariffs placed on the mainland.
Sunny Cheung, a member of the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation (HKIAD) which organised the event, said they prepared a 100-page report for the U.S. to consider sanctions.
The U.S. House and Senate passed the Hong Kong rights act with overwhelming, veto-proof majorities.
People gather in support of pro-democracy protesters during a lunch break rally in the Kwun Tong area in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
They also ushered in a rare period of calm following weeks of spiralling unrest, with no clashes or tear gas battles between protesters and police for more than a week.
Protesters have thrown petrol bombs and attacked businesses seen as being pro-Beijing.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy opposition leader, Joshua Wong, urged the police to "retreat" from the campus and "set our trapped protesters free". PHOTO:A sign reading "Thanks" with a US flag above is seen during a gathering in Hong Kong, Nov. 28, 2019.
Its chief significance lies in creating the political climate, under the banner of "human rights" and "democracy", for additional USA economic measures against China, and possibly military action in the future.
What's more likely is that Beijing will take out its anger on Hong Kong, enforcing stricter control over policies, trying to change the education system and pushing for stronger national security laws, as called for in a recent meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee.
Hong Kong police on Friday lifted a cordon around a university campus that became a battleground for anti-government protesters holed up inside during a 13-day siege.
About 100 officers first entered the campus on Thursday to collect evidence and remove unsafe items.
It's not clear whether the officers found any remaining students.
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