U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has met with 20-year-old activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) to discuss the tense political situation in Hong Kong and what role the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) may play in supporting the pro-democracy movement.

Wong, secretary-general of Hong Kong political party Demosistō, was invited to Washington D.C. to speak at an event hosted by the CECC, named “Hong Kong’s democratic future.”

Rubio, co-chairman of CECC, closely follows human rights in China and the progress of Hong Kong’s democracy, Wong wrote on Facebook. The Florida Senator is familiar with events such as the abduction of Hong Kong booksellers and the 2014 Umbrella Movement, Wong said.

Wong said that during the meeting Rubio was critical of Beijing’s recent encroachment on Hong Kong’s democratic process and judicial independence – last week Beijing issued a new interpretation of Hong Kong’s constitution, or Basic Law, to stop two Hong Kong lawmakers from taking their seats in the Legislative Council, after they had improperly taken oaths in Hong Kong’s parliament.

Wong said that the existing United States-Hong Kong Policy Act focuses mainly on terms of trade and business activities. Wong told Rubio that he hopes the U.S. can advance the Hong Kong Human Right and Democracy Act, which would focus on protecting human rights and democratic values. The Act was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2015.

Rubio promised Wong that the CECC will continue to keep up with the recent events follow events in Hong Kong, Wong said. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Rubio is also a member, would do the same.

Hong Kong pushes back against international ‘interference’

In February, the CECC released a statement to show its support for Wong – who was facing criminal charges for his role in public protests at the time – and others in the pro-democracy movement and outlined its concerns for Hong Kong's autonomy.

“Beijing’s expanded influence and reach in Hong Kong are undermining the future of the 'one country, two systems' model,” said Congressman and chairman of CECC Chris Smith. “The Administration should do more to help protect Hong Kong’s autonomy, which is clearly in U.S. interests.”

“Hong Kong’s unique vitality and prosperity are rooted in its guaranteed freedoms and the rule of law, if they are further eroded and Hong Kong’s autonomy is undermined, the Congress and the Administration must decide whether separate treatment for Hong Kong remains warranted,” Smith said.

On Nov. 16, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission published its annual report. In its Hong Kong section, the report noted China has tightened its control over Hong Kong and suggested the U.S. Congress should evaluate whether Hong Kong still has “sufficient degree of autonomy.”

In response, the Hong Kong government said that Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy and asked foreign parties “not to interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs."

Long-term plan

Wong, who was detained in Thailand earlier this October reportedly at the request of Chinese authorities, says he also met with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in Washington to discuss the detention and the broader problems facing Hong Kong activists as they travel abroad.

In June, Wong told The News Lens International that building support in the international community was a crucial part of the democracy movement's long-term plan towards achieving self-determination for Hong Kong.

“The reason Hong Kong was successfully handed back to China is because Beijing put in a lot of effort to lobby the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and countries around the world to agree on the [Sino-British] Joint Declaration,” he said.

“Actually, in that whole process, there was no possibility that Hong Kong people could have any involvement. So it is really important to get the international community’s support, whether it is politicians or activists in NGOs, to ensure that Hong Kong people get the right to self-determination,” Wong said.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang