Lawmakers slam US plans to include sanctioned Hong Kong leader at summit

US lawmakers have urged the US not to invite sanctioned Hong Kong leader John Lee to APEC, to be held in San Francisco this year (Peter PARKS)

US lawmakers have urged the US not to invite sanctioned Hong Kong leader John Lee to APEC, to be held in San Francisco this year (Peter PARKS)

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, has urged Joe Biden’s administration to “ban” the sanctioned Hong Kong leader from attending an annual Pacific economic summit in California.

The Chinese financial hub is one of the member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade summit, to be held in San Francisco in November.

But Hong Kong leader John Lee was placed under US sanctions in 2020 by the Donald Trump administration over his role as the city’s security chief in crushing massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests. in Hong Kong the previous year.

“Inviting a sanctioned human rights violator is an affront to all those who have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party and (China) and its proxies in Hong Kong,” lawmakers said Wednesday in an open letter to the secretary. of US State Antony Blinken. .

The US Treasury said in 2020 that Lee was involved in the “coercion, arrest, detention or imprisonment of individuals” under the authority of a national security law imposed by Beijing.

“Due to his sanctioned person status, Chief Executive Lee is not permitted to travel to the United States unless he has received a waiver from the administration,” the signatories of the letter said. , which included Democrats Jeff Merkley and Jim McGovern as well as Republican Chris Smith.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman previously confirmed her intention to invite Lee, according to lawmakers.

“As the host, we believe it is important to foster regional economic dialogue and for the United States and (China) to work together to maintain global macroeconomic stability,” Sherman said.

But lawmakers said Wednesday they were “appalled” by the move and urged the Biden administration to “refuse any action that would give (China) disproportionate representation in APEC.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to attend the summit.

Lee’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 10,000 people during the 2019 democracy protests.

Since Beijing imposed the national security law, semi-autonomous Hong Kong has been reshaped in the image of authoritarian China – with its once vibrant civil society neutralized, nearly all opposition parties disbanded and its arts sectors and culture censored.


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