The demonstrating began hours after Trump signed the legislation, with some participants draped in U.S. flags as they celebrated the show of support.
“The rationale for us having this rally is to show our gratitude and thank the U.S Congress and also President Trump for passing the bill,” 23-year-old Sunny Cheung told Reuters. “We are really grateful about that and we really appreciate the effort made by Americans who support Hong Kong, who stand with Hong Kong, who do not choose to side with Beijing.”
“I was confident Donald Trump would sign the law because we are fighting for universal freedom. Everyone globally should support that,” added 25-year-old Jacky, who only gave his first name. “But we do want to give thanks to those around the globe that support us, a small city like Hong Kong, we thank them for their attention.”
Hong Kong has been gripped by months-long demonstrations that began as a protest of a now-shelved extradition bill and have expanded to include several other demands, including universal suffrage and an independent investigation into allegations of excessive use of force by police in dealing with protesters.
Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Wednesday despite pushback from officials in Beijing. The legislation puts sanctions on individuals involved in human rights abuses in Hong Kong and prevents them from entering the U.S.
Beijing threatened to take “firm counter measures” in response to the bill and said the U.S. should consider the consequences of China’s retaliation if it continued to “act arbitrarily.”
“This so-called legislation will only strengthen the resolve of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, and raise awareness of the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S.,” the foreign ministry said, according to Reuters. “The U.S. plot is doomed.”