UMN students split on U.S. decision to support democracy in Hong Kong

Some University of Minnesota favor the United States’ support of Hong Kong protesters, while others question President Trump’s decision to get involved.

Students Stanley, left, and Dominic, right, pose for a portrait in Coffman Union on Friday, Dec. 6. 

Sydni Rose

Students Stanley, left, and Dominic, right, pose for a portrait in Coffman Union on Friday, Dec. 6. 

Jiang Li

Late last month, President Donald Trump signed two bills that show support for democracy in Hong Kong, and once again many University of Minnesota international students are split in their support.

Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, authorizing sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials who are deemed responsible for human rights abuse. One of the bills permits an annual check of Hong Kong’s political relations to Beijing, and the other bars the selling of munitions like rubber bullets and tear gas to Hong Kong police.

With the United States’ involvement into this political matter, many University students have opinions about it.

University senior Stanley from Hong Kong, who requested to be referred to solely by his first name in fear of social media attacks, said he thinks the U.S.’s action is reasonable and sees the bill as first-aid international support to help Hong Kong gain greater democracy and civil liberties.

“ … the U.S. has always labeled [itself] as the guardian of democracy,” Stanley said. “So, I think it is natural for the U.S. to take the stance to support democracy [in] Hong Kong.”

Like Stanley, University senior Dominic, a citizen of Hong Kong who also requested to be referred to by his first name, said he cares more about the changes that the bill brings to people in Hong Kong.

“For people in Hong Kong, we don’t have enough power to get what we want, and at the same time the U.S. has this bill,” Dominic said. “We can use this to help us to get democracy.”

However, Yifan Yu, a University freshman from mainland China, said she does not think the bill supports Hong Kong and that it does not makes sense for a foreign country to step into the internal affairs of another.

“China is developing fast nowadays. We are able to to deal with our own issues,” Yu said.

The Hong Kong protests continue to escalate and several people have died in the past few months. On Nov. 24, Hong Kong pro-democracy parties won seats in the 2019 Hong Kong district council elections, which was seen as a large victory for democracy.

Meanwhile, media coverage of the events vary. Many media outlets in mainland China highlight the anti-protest individuals in Hong Kong, while a majority of media outlets in the U.S. report people attempting to flee Hong Kong and police violence against the pro-democracy protesters.

“Hong Kong is Chinese territory,” said Ella Xiong, a University sophomore from mainland China. “I think Trump should do nothing. [The] Chinese government will deal with this well.”

Stanley said he knows many students from mainland China who think the protesters are trying to “destroy the city.” 

He said protesters from Hong Kong do not want violence either, but the government ignored their message so that they had no choice but to “upgrade the activity.”

“They cannot march and march again,” Stanley said. “It has been proven that it does not work.”