World

HK activists turn to US Congress for help

WASHINGTON: Hong Kong democracy activists on Tuesday urged members of the US Congress to pass legislation to combat human rights abuses in the city, rejecting any suggestion that such a move would be inappropriate US involvement in another country's affairs.

"This is not a plea for so-called foreign interference. This is a plea for democracy," singer-activist Denise Ho told a hearing of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

The panel of witnesses also urged members of the commission, which includes senators and members of the House of Representatives from both parties, to take actions that might affect Hong Kong's economy.

"Beijing should not have it both ways, reaping all the economic benefits of Hong Kong's standing in the world while eradicating our sociopolitical identity" said Mr Joshua Wong, secretary-general of Hong Kong's Demosisto party and leader of the Umbrella Movement.

Members of Congress at the hearing also pushed for a look at Hong Kong's special trade status.

Said Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican co-chairman of the commission: "The US and other nations have options precisely because Beijing benefits from Hong Kong's special status - a special status which has made Hong Kong an international financial centre built on promises China made to the world with regards to Hong Kong, which they seek to break."

The former British colony has been rocked by more than three months of protests, with demonstrators angry over what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in Hong Kong's affairs, despite a promise of autonomy.

The trigger was an extradition Bill, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China for trial.

Legislation was introduced in the US Senate and House earlier this year that would require an annual review of the special treatment Washington gives Hong Kong, including trade and business privileges.- REUTERS

WORLD