Hong Kong paid lobbyists in Washington to stop the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, later adopted in November 2019. Jimmy Lai and other pro-democracy activists go on trial. Every pro-democracy politician in Hong Kong is facing with three or four charges.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Hong Kong government spent HK$ 84 million (US$ 10.8 million) to US lobbying firms from 2014 to 2020 to stop the US Congress from approving the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the Hong Kong Free Press reported today.
The efforts by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council failed however since the law was adopted by an overwhelming majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives in November 2019.
Proposed in 2014 following anti-government protests by the Occupy Central movement, the Act calls on the US government to take punitive action against Hong Kong officials violating traditional freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong.
According to documents released under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act, former members of Congress were among the lobbyists acting on behalf of the Hong Kong government. At least six meetings were held with members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate to prevent sanctions.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council defended the lobbying activity, arguing that it was designed to explain the situation in Hong Kong to US officials and oppose the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. None of the US lawmakers contacted on behalf of Hong Kong voted against the Act.
Following the law’s adoption, then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in May 2020 that the Autonomous Region would lose its special status and different trade, economic and financial treatment from the rest of China. Former US President Donald Trump signed the order in July 2020 ending Hong Kong’s special trading status.
Meanwhile, media mogul Jimmy Lai, former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan and eight other pro-democracy activists are set to go on trial on more charges, namely participating in an unauthorised demonstration on 1 October 2019.
Lai, Lee and eight pro-democracy leaders were convicted recently for organising and taking part in two anti-government rallies in August 2019.
In yesterday’s courtroom session, Figo Chan, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, noted that every pro-democracy politician in Hong Kong is facing at least three to four charges.