Monday, November 18, 2019 | ePaper

Pelosi welcomes Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to Capitol

  • Print


US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is given a lapel pin by a Hong Kong activist following a news conference on human rights in Hong Kong on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday. Behind Pelosi is Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong.

AP, Washington :
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday welcomed Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to the U.S. Capitol, sending a message to Beijing that Congress supports the protesters in their months-long campaign for human rights.
Pelosi thanked the activists for "challenging the conscience," not only of the Chinese government, but the worldwide community with their mass protests over the territory's autonomous status. She sided with the protesters' demand for universal suffrage and "a political system accountable to the people." And Pelosi warned others in the U.S. government not to allow "commercial interests" to drive foreign policy in the region.
"If we do not speak up because of commercial interests in support of human rights in China, we lose all moral authority to speak up for them any other place in the world," Pelosi said.
Republicans joined the Democratic leader, alongside several Hong Kong activists who have become prominent figures in the mass protests since June, in a stately room off the House floor beneath a portrait of George Washington.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said Americans see the young people waving American flags on the Hong Kong streets. "America stands with you," he said.
Several of the activists appeared before Congress this week , appealing to lawmakers to support the mass protests that began with a now shelved proposal to extradite people arrested in Hong Kong to China.
Against the backdrop of the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising, with its brutal and bloody crackdown on young democracy protesters a generation ago, the U.S. lawmakers are prominently backing today's young activists. Beijing has warned the U.S. not to interfere in its domestic affairs.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong called it "a remarkable day" to share the support of the U.S. leaders.
"We will continue our uphill battle until the day we enjoy freedom and democracy," Wong said.
Denise Ho, a singer and pro-democracy activist based in Hong Kong, thanked Pelosi for the "warm welcome" during their visit to the Capitol amid what she called a "very difficult but also very empowering" time in Hong Kong.
During a hearing Tuesday before a U.S. government commission set up by Congress to monitor human rights in China, several activists asked lawmakers to support their efforts by banning the export of American police equipment that is used against demonstrators. They also want lawmakers to more closely monitor Chinese efforts to undermine civil liberties in the city.
Republicans and Democrats on the panel, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, expressed their support. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Wednesday the hearing was beamed around the world and "no doubt" watched closely by the Chinese government.
The House is expected to advance legislation that would require the secretary of State to annually review Hong Kong's special economic and trade status, providing a check on the Chinese government's influence and the territory's autonomy.
Pelosi welcomed the Hong Kong government's decision to drop the extradition bill that sparked the protests over summer, but she said Wednesday, "We all know it's not enough. Much more must be done."
The speaker, who has become something of an alternative ambassador on the global stage during her tenure, has a long history of monitoring China from her early years in Congress when she appeared with other lawmakers in Tiananmen Square to pay tribute to the protesters.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, has been allowed certain autonomy and freedoms since it was returned to China in 1997 as a territory, with a "one country, two systems" policy that was supposed to ensure a smooth political transition.
Under U.S. law, the territory of Hong Kong receives special treatment in matters of trade, customs, sanctions enforcement, law enforcement cooperation and more. China has benefited from this, and lawmakers believe, used it to evade U.S. export controls and sanctions.
The legislation to be considered by the House from Rep. Christopher Smith, R-N.J., places Beijing on "annual notice" that it will lose Hong Kong's special economic and trade status if its autonomy continues to erode.

More News For this Category

China calls on US to 'stop flexing muscles' in South China Sea

China calls on US to 'stop flexing muscles' in South China Sea

Agencies, Bangkok :China on Monday called on the United States to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and to avoid adding "new uncertainties" over Taiwan, during high-level

China confirms aircraft carrier sailed through Taiwan Strait

China confirms aircraft carrier sailed through Taiwan Strait

AFP, Beijing :China confirmed on Monday that its first domestically built aircraft carrier had sailed through the Taiwan Strait for "routine" training and tests after Taipei accused Beijing of intimidation

United States, EU back Georgia protesters

United States, EU back Georgia protesters

AFP, Tbilisi :The United States and European Union expressed solidarity Monday with Georgia's anti-government protesters who took to the streets after the ruling party backtracked on promises of electoral reforms.In

‘Women shouldn't feel like second-class citizens,’ says Indra Nooyi

‘Women shouldn't feel like second-class citizens,’ says Indra Nooyi

PTI, Washington :Women must not see themselves as second class citizens and know that they too have arrived on the scene, Indian American business executive and former CEO of PepsiCo

Rouhani warns protest-hit Iran cannot allow 'insecurity'

AFP, Tehran :President Hassan Rouhani warned Sunday that riot-hit Iran could not allow "insecurity" after two days of unrest killed two people and saw authorities arrest dozens and restrict internet

North Korea says it won't give Trump a summit for free

AP,  South Korea :North Korea on Monday responded to a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it

News In Brief

Iran condemns US show of support for 'rioters'AFP, Tehran Iran condemned the United States' support for "rioters" in a statement issued late Sunday, after two days of violent protests in

Johnson's Conservatives have highest support since 2017: Polls

Johnson's Conservatives have highest support since 2017: Polls

Reuters, London :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party have the highest level of support since 2017, according to opinion polls published on Saturday.The Dec. 12 election was called to

US, S Korea postpone joint exercise criticized by N Korea

US, S Korea postpone joint exercise criticized by N Korea

AP, Bangkok :U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the United States and South Korea have indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise in an "act of goodwill" toward North Korea.The

Taiwan President chooses running mate who Chinese paper wanted arrested

Taiwan President chooses running mate who Chinese paper wanted arrested

Reuters, Taipei :Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has named as her running mate for 2020 elections a former premier who angered Beijing so badly last year with his support for the