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What the United States Could Do to Deter a Massacre in Hong Kong

Sen. Tom Cotton speaks with reporters in Washington, D.C. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, warned China on Tuesday that it would be “a grave mistake of historic proportions if Beijing were to flood into Hong Kong with the People’s Armed Police and the People’s Liberation Army to crack down on Hong Kongers.”

“If Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong, it would require a fundamental reassessment of our relations with their country,” Cotton told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “The risk to life if Beijing were to crack down in Hong Kong is severe. You’re talking about protests with hundreds of thousands of people — not hundreds, not thousands — hundreds of thousands of people.”

What exactly does Cotton think the consequences of a violent crackdown should be for China? On August 6, he laid out six actions the U.S. should be prepared to take should Beijing impose “martial law in Hong Kong or otherwise violate the 1984 Joint Declaration.” 

  • Halt trade negotiations with Beijing
  • Sanction senior Chinese Communist Party officials
  • Revoke the U.S. visas of Party leaders and their families
  • Curtail student visas for Chinese nationals
  • Demand the expulsion of Chinese officials from leadership positions in international organizations
  • Revise the Hong Kong Policy Act

“The Tiananmen Square Massacre highlighted the Chinese Communist Party’s brutality and treachery, which they have employed for thirty years to steal our jobs and threaten our security,” Cotton said. “If Beijing cracks down on Hong Kong, the United States ought not make the same mistake again.”

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