American-made crowd control items have been heavily used in the Hong Kong police’s efforts to suppress peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong. This is especially troubling in light of reports that tear gas in particular has been misused, raising risks of death and serious injury. Until the Hong Kong protests are settled, American companies shouldn’t be allowed to export crowd control items that could be misused or used to suppress peaceful protests to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s unrest is a domestic matter for the Chinese government to resolve as it sees fit. The Chinese government, like any other sovereign nation, is within its rights to handle domestic protests and unrest as it sees fit and to use necessary tools — such as crowd control gear and tear gas — to that end. Given the fragile state of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, it’d be a bad idea to risk angering the Chinese government before trade talks conclude.