WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators and Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL)—who serve as commissioner and cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)—released the following joint statement today following the ousting of four pro-democracy lawmakers from the Hong Kong Legislative Council:
“Democracy in Hong Kong is gasping for air. This morning, China’s unelected and unaccountable National People’s Congress Standing Committee took another grave step toward stripping the people of Hong Kong of their sacred rights and freedoms—this time by ousting Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki, Dennis Kwok, and Kenneth Leung from the city’s Legislative Council. These lawmakers were duly elected by their constituents, but forced out of their positions by a new directive from Beijing that disqualifies any advocate or supporter of Hong Kong’s autonomy—which Beijing promised to protect—from holding elected office.
“It is critical that the United States and all allies of freedom come together to recognize and condemn the undeniable and far reaching ramifications of this authoritarian powergrab, which has wiped out what little remained of Hong Kong’s democratic political system and violates China’s treaty obligations. We stand in solidarity with the unseated public servants, their 15 colleagues who have resigned in protest of today’s crackdown, and all Hong Kongers who have stood up time and time again in the face of a brutal regime for the sake of their city and the values they hold dear. You are heard, seen, and supported around the world—and there will be consequences for Beijing’s actions.”
Senators Merkley and Rubio have been consistent advocates for supporting freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, including by championing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act. Last fall, Senator Merkley successfully passed legislation to ban the export of crowd control munitions to Hong Kong in an effort to help protect peaceful protesters during the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations. Earlier this year, Senator Merkley teamed up with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in a bipartisan effort to press the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for a strategy to protect human rights around the globe, including in Hong Kong, during the coronavirus pandemic.