Hong Kong pro-democracy activists plead their case in US Congress

Young leaders of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement on Tuesday urged US lawmakers to pressure Beijing, saying that any setbacks to the territory’s special status would encourage China to impose its “communist values” elsewhere in the world.
Thegold of a hearing that could irritate Beijing, Joshua Wong, Denise Ho and other pro-democracy activists were received by Republican and Democratic members of a committee in the US Congress in Washington.

“If Hong Kong falls, it could easily become a stepping stone for the Chinese totalitarian regime to push its rules and priorities abroad, using its economic power to convert others to its communist values,” said the star. Denise Ho, whose music was censored in China because of her involvement in the movement.

“This is not a call for” foreign interference “, nor for the independence of Hong Kong,” said the 42-year-old artist. “This is a call for human rights. It is a call for democracy “.

The former British colony has been going through the most serious political crisis for over three months since its return to China in 1997, with almost daily actions and demonstrations denouncing the decline in freedoms, demanding democratic reforms and denouncing a police response. judged brutal by the protesters.

Highlighting Tuesday’s rare rights-based union in Hong Kong, the Republican and Democratic members of the commission are considering a bill on “Human Rights and Democracy in Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong is bound to Washington by a special economic status that allows the territory to be exempted from the restrictions applying to mainland China.

US parliamentarians are studying a text that would condition the maintenance of this special status to the annual approval by the State Department of a situation deemed appropriate in respect of human rights by the Hong Kong authorities.

It also provides for sanctions for any official who suppresses “fundamental freedoms” in this semi-autonomous territory.

The parliamentarians are also studying a text that would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment to the Hong Kong police to suppress protests.

“Eradicate” the Hong Kong identity

“Beijing should not win on all fronts, reaping the economic benefits of Hong Kong’s prestige in the world while eradicating our socio-political identity,” said 22-year-old Joshua Wong, who became the face of the movement.

“As I speak, Hong Kong stands at a crucial crossroads. The stakes have never been greater, “he said.

The young man warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping could decide to act more harshly before the 70 th anniversary of the communist regime, the 1 st of October.

“To send the tanks is irrational, but not impossible,” he warned.

Joshua Wong pointed out that a baby born today would be 28 years old in 2047, by which time greater autonomy is theoretically guaranteed in Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” principle.

“This deadline is closer than it seems. We will not be able to go back, “he said.

“I hope that historians will salute the US Congress for standing on the side of Hong Kong, on the side of human rights and democracy,” said Joshua Wong.

Engaged in full trade talks with Beijing, the administration of President Donald Trump has hitherto low profile.

Beijing and the Hong Kong authorities have accused Washington of involvement in Hong Kong affairs, and China has summoned the German ambassador after the recent meeting of the German Foreign Minister and Joshua Wong.

US Senator Marco Rubio, an ally of Donald Trump, on Tuesday hailed the Hong Kong mobilization as one of the “greatest movements (…) we have seen from recent memory”.

Co-leader of the congressional committee on China, which organized the hearing, he added that it was “more than a high time for the United States and the free world to respond to it”.

The elected Democrat of the House of Representatives who, along with Mr. Rubio, leads the commission, Jim McGovern, said the protesters had “inspired the whole world.”

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