JOSHUA Wong, Hong Kong’s intrepid pro-democracy activist, has urged U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to support human rights in the semi-autonomous city that he says are under threat from Beijing.
The young leader best known for his role in spearheading the massive Umbrella Revolution in 2014, reportedly said this at an event on Capitol Hill organized by a U.S. congressional panel that monitors rights issues in China.
In his remarks, Wong said the international community has a moral responsibility to “keep their eyes on Hong Kong” as the communist government on the mainland was eroding freedoms enshrined in the agreement that underpinned the handover of the former British colony to China in 1997.
“Being a businessman, I hope Donald Trump could know the dynamics in Hong Kong and know that to maintain the business sector benefits in Hong Kong, it’s necessary to fully support human rights in Hong Kong to maintain the judicial independence and rule of law,” he was quoted saying by the Associated Press.
According to Channel News Asia, Wong during the event met with U.S. senator Marco Rubio who praised the 20-year-old for his role in championing democracy in the former British colony.
“Joshua is an impressive and thoughtful young man who, along with his fellow activists, represents the future of Hong Kong – a future that must not go the way of Beijing’s failed authoritarianism and one-party rule,” he was quoted as saying.
Senator Rubio added that Beijing has in recent times undermined the “one country, two systems” policy and infringed on democratic freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
“This was on stark display over the last year with the abduction of the Hong Kong booksellers, the required loyalty oaths in the lead-up to the September LegCo elections,” said Rubio, referring to the mysterious disappearance of five booksellers in the semi-autonomous region between October and December 2015 and reports that they were being held in detention in mainland China.
“And last week with Beijing’s unprecedented intervention in Hong Kong’s legal system to block two democratically elected politicians from assuming office,” he reportedly added, according to CNA.
Earlier this week, a Hong Kong court disqualified two newly-elected separatist lawmakers from taking office over their controversial acts of swearing and using anti-China insults when they were giving their oath to be sworn in. Their supporters and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have insisted that the decision was biased and that it was influenced by last week’s approval in China’s Parliament of an interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law that states lawmakers must swear their allegiance to the city as part of China.
“China’s assault on democratic institutions and human rights is of central importance to the people of Hong Kong and to its status as a free market, economic powerhouse and hub for international trade and investment,” Rubio said, referring to the matter.
Also during the Capitol Hill event, it was announced that a new U.S. legislation – the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – was mooted by Rubio and Senator Tom Cotton to “renew the United States’ historical commitment to freedom and democracy in Hong Kong at a time when its autonomy is increasingly under assault”.
Cotton was quoted by CNA as saying that the legislation aims to establish “punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, especially in connection with the abduction of certain booksellers”.