Get tough on Beijing, says US report

US lawmakers should examine policy options to impose penalties on Beijing for not abiding by its commitments to Hong Kong, a report by a congressional commission says.

Riley Chan

Friday, November 17, 2017

US lawmakers should examine policy options to impose penalties on Beijing for not abiding by its commitments to Hong Kong, a report by a congressional commission says.

The annual US report accused Beijing of "increased intrusions into Hong Kong's autonomy" and questioned the "one country, two systems" framework.

Citing recent examples such as the disqualification of six pro-democracy lawmakers and the jailing of Occupy student leaders, the report said it has raised widespread concerns about the level of autonomy in the Judiciary.

The report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission also criticized the chief executive election earlier this year, saying the voting system was muddied by an Election Committee comprising mostly pro-Beijing electors, which resulted in the "mainland's preferred candidate" Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor taking the most votes.

In response, the SAR government said Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy and foreign legislatures should not interfere with the SAR's internal affairs.

Since the handover, "the SAR has been exercising a high degree of autonomy and 'Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong' in strict accordance with the Basic Law," the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said.

"This demonstrates the full and successful implementation of the 'one country, two systems' policy, which has been widely recognized by the international community."

The report said the "deeply unpopular" and "being seen as loyal to Beijing" chief executive is unlikely to advance democracy advocates' goal of universal suffrage.

"Concerns persist among pro- democracy advocates in Hong Kong and among international observers that the territory is sliding away from 'one country, two systems' and moving ever closer to the mainland."

Hong Kong also faces economic pressure from China, the report said. Initiatives like the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect and China-Hong Kong Bond Connect allow Beijing to deepen economic integration with the world and attract foreign investment.

The report also slammed Beijing's tight control over the media.