Thu, Sep 19, 2019 - Page 6 News List

HK protesters take cause to US

‘DRACONIAN MEASURES’:Joshua Wong warned that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam could deny access to the Internet or shut the public transportation system


The leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement on Tuesday appealed directly to US lawmakers to exert pressure on Beijing, warning that an erosion of the territory’s special status would embolden China’s leaders around the world.

Young people at the forefront of Hong Kong’s mass protests testified before a congressional commission in support of US legislation aimed at defending Hong Kongers’ civil rights.

“This is not a plea for so-called ‘foreign interference,’ nor for Hong Kong independence,” said pop star Denise Ho (何韻詩), whose music has been banned in mainland China for her activism. “This is a plea for universal human rights. This is a plea for democracy. This is a plea for the freedom to choose.”

Ho said China’s clampdown in Hong Kong was a test for all those who believe in a world that is “free, open and civil.”

Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, initially against a now-dropped bid by its leaders to allow extraditions to the mainland. The movement has expanded into a broader pro-democracy push in the territory, where activists say freedoms are being eroded.

“If Hong Kong falls, it would easily become the springboard for the totalitarian regime of China to push its rules and priorities overseas, utilizing its economic powers to conform others to their communist values,” she said.

The hearing examined legislation that would end Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US unless the US Department of State each year certifies that the territory’s authorities are respecting human rights and rule of law.

“Beijing shouldn’t have it both ways, reaping all the economic benefits of Hong Kong’s standing in the world, while eradicating our sociopolitical identity,” said 22-year-old Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), one of the most prominent figures in an otherwise leaderless and faceless movement.

“As I speak, Hong Kong is standing at a critical juncture. The stakes have never been higher,” he said.

He said that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) could take harsher action before next month’s 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party taking power.

“Sending in the tanks remains irrational, though not impossible,” Wong said.

He also said that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) could take draconian measures that include shutting down the Internet or the public transportation system.

Wong warned that a baby born today would be 28 in 2047 — the date when China’s promise with former colonial ruler Britain to allow “one country, two systems” expires.

“That deadline is closer to us than it appears; there’s no return,” Wong said. “I hope that historians will celebrate the United States Congress for having stood on the side of Hong Kongers, the side of human rights and democracy.”

Protesters have rallied outside the US consulate in Hong Kong in a bid to gain international support, but the administration of US President Donald Trump has taken a low profile, with some analysts saying that a vocal US stance could feed Beijing’s attempts to brand the protesters as foreign agitators.

Beijing and Lam have already accused the US of interference and China summoned the German ambassador after Wong visited the European nation.

“Blaming the US government — and this Congress — for the protests is cowardly propaganda and not befitting a nation with aspirations of global leadership,” US Representative Chris Smith said at the hearing.

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