US senators reintroduce bill to protect HK freedom

A picture that Joshua Wong tweeted after meeting Marco Rubio last November.

A picture that Joshua Wong tweeted after meeting Marco Rubio last November.

Three US senators are reintroducing a bill that would punish Hong Kong or mainland officials responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in the SAR.

Marco Rubio, chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said the bipartisan legislation would “renew the United States’ historical commitment to freedom and democracy in Hong Kong at a time when its autonomy is increasingly under assault.”

The Republican senator for Florida said the importance of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act further impressed him late last year after meeting student leader Joshua Wong, who led the 2014 Occupy protests.

“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. 

“The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act reaffirms America’s support of the people of Hong Kong as they seek to oppose Beijing’s efforts to erode democratic institutions,” Rubio said in a statement posted on his website.

Wong in response said it was the right time for the international community to review Hong Kong’s situation and make policy changes at the 20th anniversary of the handover.

“Even though the Democratic Party and Republican Party have different views on policies, it should be both parties’ common principle to be citizens who embrace universal values and support Hong Kong’s democratic movement,” Wong, secretary-general of the Demosisto party, said.

Two other drafters of the bill are Republican Tom Cotton and Democrat Ben Cardian.

Among other things, the proposed legislation would “require the president to identify persons responsible for the surveillance, abduction, detention, or forced confessions of certain booksellers and journalists in Hong Kong, and other actions suppressing basic freedoms, and to freeze their US-based assets and deny them entry into the US”.