A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has nominated Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, to honour the demonstrators’ struggle against the Beijing ‘imposed draconian national security law.’
This move by the lawmakers would surely anger Beijing, which has repeatedly received condemnation from the West for its imposition and undermining the region’s sovereignty.
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“We are nominating a movement that has peacefully advocated for and maintained human rights and democracy in Hong Kong since 1997 and continues to fight against the erosion of these rights,” Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, Representative James McGovern, a Democrat, and seven other lawmakers, wrote to Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Peace Prize committee as quoted by South China Morning Post.
“A number of democracy advocates are already in jail, some in exile, and many more awaiting trials where they are expected to be convicted and sentenced in the coming months for the sole reason of peacefully expressing their political views through speech, publication, elections, or assembly,” the signatories, all members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, wrote in the letter recently made public.
Dimitar Gueorguiev, an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University said that with five Democrats and four Republicans backing the nomination, the effort “underscores that US pressure on China is not letting up”.
“It is important to remember that this development follows on recent Chinese sanctions against US officials, who had criticised China’s human rights record, announced during the twilight moments of the Trump administration… Optimists in Beijing might have thought that a new administration would offer an opportunity for some sort of reset. That seems increasingly unlikely,” Gueorguiev said.
Millions of Hongkongers demonstrated peacefully against the extradition bill in June 2019, but over weeks and months, some subsequent protests became more violent as the administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to acknowledge the demands of the opposition.
“In response to public opposition and protests, the Chinese government issued the National Security Law, which was passed and implemented without any input or participation from Hong Kong residents,” the nomination letter said as quoted by South China Morning Post. “This law is being used to actively suppress voices for human rights and democracy,” it added.
The media outlet further reported that the lawmakers behind the Nobel Peace Prize nomination have since sponsored or co-sponsored other anti-China bills.
The draconian security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1, 2020.