Thu, Feb 06, 2020 - Page 7 News List

US lawmakers urge Nobel for HK protesters

‘BLACK HAND’:The letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee could spark new accusations by China of the US secretly influencing the pro-democracy protests


A bipartisan group of prominent US lawmakers has nominated Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters for the Nobel Peace Prize, a move that could anger China amid continued tensions between the two countries.

In a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, US senators Marco Rubio and James McGovern — the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China — recommended awarding the prize to the “countless and often anonymous individuals [who] risked their lives, their health, their jobs and their education to support a better future for Hong Kong.”

“This prize would honor the millions of people in Hong Kong whose bravery and determination have inspired the world,” the lawmakers wrote, praising the movement as “impressively organized and coherent, yet notably leaderless and flexible.”

The letter came at a particularly sensitive time, as Beijing struggles to contain a rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak that has already spread worldwide and risks exacerbating a broader economic slowdown in the country.

The decision to nominate Hong Kong’s protesters, who have clashed with riot police in the former British colony for more than seven months, could spur new Chinese accusations of foreign interference in the territory.

China has described the US as a “black hand” behind the protests — a claim the US Department of State has dismissed as “ridiculous.”

China has frequently accused the protesters of seeking support, guidance and even funding from foreign governments that hope to destabilize the Chinese economy.

It has also compared the demonstrators — who have thrown Molotov cocktails and bricks at police and vandalized the territory’s subway system — to terrorists.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and arrested thousands over months of clashes.

The US lawmakers’ recommendation follows a 2018 Nobel letter in support of prominent activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) and other leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy “Umbrella movement.”

The latest round of protests began in June last year in opposition to since-scrapped legislation that would have allowed extraditions to China. They have morphed into a broader movement against Beijing’s grip over the territory.

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