The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, to give the protesters “the full democratic rights and freedoms that they have been promised and which they deserve.”
The chief executive has sided with Beijing and refused to give into the protesters’ demand that they be able to choose from a slate of candidates not vetted by China.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday they’re “obviously continuing to watch this closely,” but didn’t have anything new to add.
“We believe the legitimacy of the chief executive would be greatly enhanced if the Basic Law’s ultimate aim of selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage is fulfilled and if the election provided the people and provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates representative of the voters’ will,” Psaki said. “And certainly this is – we’ve consistently voiced our support for that, including directly to China.”
In the letter to Leung, Menendez expressed “grave concerns” over the use of tear gas and pepper spray on peaceful demonstrators and urged “you and your government to fully respect the rights of the people of Hong Kong to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, which are enshrined in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.”
Menendez called it a “perversion” to suggest that choosing from China-approved candidates “is the realization of aspirations of the people of Hong Kong for autonomous self-government, democratic governance, and genuine ‘universal suffrage’ in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong’s Basic Law states that the chief executive would be elected through “universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures.”
To be included on the ballot, China will ascertain if they meet criteria including “love the country and love Hong Kong.”
“Under Hong Kong’s own laws no restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and that are necessary in the interests of national security or public safety and public order. Yet in early July, Hong Kong police briefly detained over 500 participants and organizers for their role in peaceful protests that called on the Hong Kong and central governments to deliver genuine democracy,” Menendez noted. “…Such suppression of the right to peaceful assembly and free expression – rights that are afforded the people of Hong Kong under the Basic Law and fully consistent with the ‘one country, two systems’ – are deeply troubling.”
“As the Chief Executive of Hong Kong , I urge you to exercise your leadership to guarantee that your citizens, the people of Hong Kong, receive the full democratic rights and freedoms that they have been promised and which they deserve.”
China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that Hong Kong “is a special administrative region of China, and Hong Kong affairs fall entirely within China’s internal affairs.”
“We urge relevant countries to be prudent in words and deeds, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs in any way, and do not support the illegal activities such as the ‘Occupy Central’ nor send any wrong signal.”