The US Congressional-Executive Commission on China has said that “the long-term viability of the ‘one country, two systems’ model in Hong Kong is increasingly uncertain given central government interference.”

The Hong Kong government said in response the the annual report, released on Thursday, that foreign legislatures should not interfere with the internal affairs of the city.

CECC Chair US Senator Marco Rubio, along with co-chair US Representative Chris Smith, also stated an intention to nominate Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and the Umbrella Movement for the  Nobel Peace Prize for “their peaceful efforts to bring political reform and protect the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

joshua wong marco rubio
Marco Rubio and Joshua Wong. Photo: Jeffrey Ngo.

The Commission said in the report that it had observed a further erosion of the “One Country, Two Systems” agreement which guarantees the city’s autonomy. Regarding Beijing’s Basic Law interpretation in November 2016 triggered by the oath-taking saga, the CECC noted that it “was the first time the NPCSC [Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress] had preemptively ruled on a case under consideration by a local court, raising further concerns about Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

It also mentioned the election of Chief Executive Carrie Lam by an  Election Committee – which it said is “restricted to ensure support for candidates approved by Chinese authorities.” It noted the disqualification of pro-democracy legislators over their oaths, the sentencing of the Occupy trio over their involvement in the Civic Square clashes, and “continuing fears” over press freedom.

cecc report

“This year the central authorities further intervened in the affairs of Hong Kong, disqualifying democratically elected legislators and jailing pro-democracy leaders. In the face of this repression, the universal desire for basic human rights persists,” Rubio said.

Rubio and Smith also intend to award the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and the Chinese Democracy Movement the Congressional Gold Medal. Rubio said that the report is dedicated to Liu, “whose hopes for the Chinese people, articulated in his essays, poetry and ultimately Charter 08 remain aspirational.”

“As President Trump heads to China next month, he must press China to uphold international human rights norms, respect the rule of law, and adhere to universal standards,” he added.

joshua wong agnes chow lester shum
Student activists led the 79-day Occupy protests in response to Beijing’s decision to bar open elections. File Photo: OCLP.

In response to the CECC report, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said on Friday morning: “Since the return to the motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising a high degree of autonomy and ‘Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong’ in strict accordance with the Basic Law.

“This demonstrates the full and successful implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which has been widely recognised by the international community.”

“Foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR,” the spokesperson added.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.