Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has said he has given a list of election officers to a US congressional commission in response to a request related to potential sanctions.

District officers of the Hong Kong government usually act as returning officers temporarily to handle election-related affairs. Over the past few years, returning officers have often disqualified pro-democracy candidates from running in elections, while the government said the decisions were solely made by the officers.

Wong said that he had met with the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC)—a congressional body to give advice related to China—last week in Washington DC, and members of the commission asked about a list of people who should be sanctioned, if the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is passed.

Joshua Wong
Joshua Wong in Washington DC. Photo: Facebook/Joshua Wong.

Wong said members of the USCC mentioned issues of police use of force and abuse of power by officials, as well as disqualification of candidates.

“[USCC members] noted that returning officers had stripped the right to run in [elections] through political selection, and asked me to provide a list of returning officers for the next District Council election,” Wong wrote on his Facebook, adding that he had emailed them a list.

Mass protests since June were sparked by the soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China. Large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.

In response to the protests, the US Congress put the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as a top priority. It passed the committee stage earlier this week. If it becomes law, the act gives Washington the power to sanction anyone who has violated internationally recognised human rights in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong activists David Stilwell
Hong Kong activists meeting David Stilwell, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Photo: Facebook/Joshua Wong.

Wong said two core members of his Demosisto group, who live in the US, would keep lobbying Congress in the hope that the act will be passed within this year.

“As to how the act should be implemented, who should have their US assets frozen or be denied entry because they suppressed human rights in Hong Kong, so that they can live in the Greater Bay Area with honour for generations to come, I ask you all to brainstorm,” Wong said.

On Friday, Demosisto announced that Wong would run in the upcoming District Council elections in November. Previously, Wong told HKFP that he expected to be barred from future elections.

Agnes Chow, also of his group, was barred from running in the 2018 Legislative Council by-election, but won an election petition earlier this month, on the basis that the government had not given her a chance to explain her political views.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.