Chairs Denounce Chinese Government’s Unprecedented Intervention in Hong Kong’s Legal System

Chairs Denounce Chinese Government’s Unprecedented Intervention in Hong Kong’s Legal System

 For Immediate Release

November 9, 2016

(Washington, DC)—The chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Representative Christopher H. Smith, chair, and Senator Marco Rubio, cochair, issued the following statements following the Chinese government’s unprecedented decision to intervene in an active court case involving two young Hong Kong politicians—Sixtus “Baggio” Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching—elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in September on platforms calling for democratic self-determination for Hong Kong.  Last month at their swearing-in, they altered the traditional oath of office and since then have been prevented from retaking the oath.  The National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Monday issued an interpretation, in the absence of any request to do so by the Hong Kong government or courts, that effectively bans Leung and Yau from office.  The Chairs expressed deep concern about the implications of the ruling by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which represents an unprecedented meddling in Hong Kong’s legal system.

“Political confidence and even the rule of law are undermined by the latest and unprecedented overreaction from Beijing,” said Representative Smith. “The NPC's intervention will likely solidify the opinion of those who see a fundamental difference between Hong Kong and a China run by the Communist Party.  It is in everyone’s interests that Hong Kong remains a free and prosperous bridge between China and the West, but if all Hong Kong is going to have is some sort of sham autonomy, then U.S. policy needs to be re-evaluated. The United States must provide unwavering support for Hong Kong's freedoms, the rule of law, and the release of Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai.” 

“Beijing's recent actions in Hong Kong are unprecedented, and should send chills down the spines of people who care about promoting democratic governance in Hong Kong by preserving its independent legal system,” said Senator Rubio. “In blocking two democratically elected politicians from taking office, China has sent the undeniable signal that Hong Kong’s cherished ‘high degree of autonomy’ has limits, and those limits are whatever the Communist Party in China decides.  China’s recent actions are not only troubling for the people of Hong Kong who yearn for greater electoral representation, democratic reform, protection of human rights and a legal system that functions independent of mainland interference, but also for international businesses and investors who have long viewed Hong Kong as a desirable center for trade and finance.  Beijing’s actions are outrageous and have rightly prompted many Hong Kong residents, including thousands of lawyers, law students, and activists to take to the streets in peaceful protest recognizing the gravity of what is at stake. The United States should stand firmly with their right to express themselves in this manner and oppose any efforts by the Chinese government to crush or suppress dissent.”

 For more information on recent developments in Hong Kong, please see the CECC’s recently released 2016 Annual Report

 The CECC will be hosting a “Conversation with Joshua Wong about Hong Kong’s Democratic Future” on Wednesday, November 16, from 2-3 pm in the Capitol Visitor’s Center SVC-215.   Student activist Joshua Wong, who gained international notoriety during the 2014 pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” in Hong Kong, is at the forefront of a movement seeking greater democracy and self-determination in deciding Hong Kong’s future and an end to the Chinese government’s erosion of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy under the “one country, two systems” policy.”  To RSVP or for further information, please contact Scott Flipse, the CECC’s Director of Policy and Media Relations at or 202-226-3777.