Beijing kills pan-democrats. Rubio: Hong Kong’s autonomy is gone.

The Chinese government’s decision to bypass Hong Kong’s legislative process and directly disqualify members of the pro-democracy camp prompted more than a dozen members of the pan-democracy camp to resign en masse in protest. In response, members of the U.S. Congress from both sides of the aisle continued to condemn Beijing’s actions for two days, with some saying “Hong Kong’s autonomy is gone.

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on Wednesday (Nov 11) passed a resolution demanding that the Hong Kong government immediately disqualify any legislator who advocates or supports Hong Kong independence, refuses to recognize the state’s ownership and exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, seeks foreign intervention in Hong Kong’s affairs, or commits other acts that endanger national security. The pro-democracy legislators were immediately stripped of their seats. This triggered the resignation of the remaining 15 pan-democratic lawmakers who defied Beijing’s crackdown.

According to Hong Kong media reports, the Hong Kong Legislative Council Secretariat confirmed on Thursday that it had received the resignations of the pan-democrats, which will take effect on December 1. This means that members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council’s pro-establishment camp will gain nearly 100 percent control of the agenda.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Mrs Lam said she wanted the legislature to become a political body “with patriots as the main body”.

“The direction is very clear now that Hong Kong’s autonomy is gone,” Republican federal Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told VOA. “(Beijing) is there to take direct action to remove opponents of their regime. We saw that happen again yesterday and the night before.”

Lawmakers from both parties speak out in unison to criticize Beijing for breaking its promises to the people of Hong Kong and the world

A day earlier, Senator Rubio, who is co-chairman of the U.S. Congressional and Administration’s China Committee, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a Democratic member of the committee, issued a joint statement as soon as they learned of the news, condemning the Beijing authorities’ actions as stifling democracy and autonomy in Hong Kong.

“China’s unelected and unaccountable Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has taken yet another serious step to deprive the people of Hong Kong of their sacred rights and freedoms,” the legislators said in the joint statement, “These legislators were elected by their constituents, but were forced out of office by a new directive from Beijing that Disqualify from holding public office anyone who advocates and supports Hong Kong’s autonomy, which Beijing has pledged to protect.”

In an interview with Voice of America, Senator Merkley said Beijing’s actions amounted to a blatant breach of its agreement with the world.

“I’m very concerned about (Beijing’s actions against) Hong Kong, and the disqualification of members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council is a violation of the agreement that China made with the world on the return of Hong Kong. We really want to push back on this. It’s very disturbing,” Merkley said

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the chief Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, tweeted on Thursday that the Beijing authorities’ approach was “despicable.

The U.S. must stand up for democracy in Hong Kong,” Menendez tweeted, “A return to a values-based approach is long overdue. A return to a values-centric foreign policy is long overdue.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), a veteran Democratic federal senator who has often spoken out in favor of Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracy, told the Voice of America that he is not surprised that Hong Kong is where it is now.

“I’m not at all surprised to see Beijing adopt such a repressive policy toward Hong Kong, now that the principles of democracy (in Hong Kong) have become impossible,” Cardin said.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), a Republican federal senator who visited Hong Kong during the protests that erupted a year ago over demands for democracy, also tweeted in response to Beijing’s decision to disqualify pan-democratic lawmakers.

“Communist China can feel its power slipping away,” Scott tweeted, “Pan-democratic leaders will continue to fight for their human rights and autonomy no matter what the Chinese Communist Party says.”

U.S. lawmakers continue to push for refugee asylum for Hong Kong people, calling on European allies for help

So far, members of both parties in both houses of the National Assembly have introduced four bills aimed at providing asylum to Hong Kong people oppressed by Beijing: the Hong Kong Refugee Protection Act, the Support for Victims of Communism in Hong Kong Act, the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, and the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act.

So far, the only bill that has progressed is the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act (HKPCA). This bill was passed by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee early last month.

The bill will provide “temporary protected status” for Hong Kong people and separate Hong Kong from mainland Chinese immigrants in the category of immigration policy, while promoting international cooperation to protect Hong Kong’s refugee status, especially for those who played an important role in the protests. It also expedites the processing of politically persecuted Hong Kong people. The bill also encourages like-minded allies to provide asylum to Hong Kongers who are oppressed by Beijing.

Senator Rubio told the Voice of America that he has been pushing for progress on the legislation on the Senate side. However, he did not mention whether the bill has a chance of passing the U.S. Congress before the end of the current session.

Rubio said, “I’ve been pushing the (support for providing asylum to Hong Kong refugees) bill until Britain and other countries have done so, or will do so. I hope this is something we can reach.”

While the prospects of the bill’s passage through Congress are still unknown, a number of bipartisan lawmakers said in response to a question from Voice of America that they would be willing to support the effort if the bill made it to the chamber.

“Now that the international pressure and the clear recognition that, unfortunately, Hong Kong no longer enjoys autonomy and should not be considered autonomous, we have passed the bill in question, which provides other (practice) options for our executive branch,” Rubio added.

The US Congress passed two important Hong Kong-related bills in late November last year and early July this year, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. The former pair requires the U.S. government to submit an annual assessment of Hong Kong’s autonomy status to Congress and consider whether Hong Kong should continue to receive special treatment accordingly; the latter would impose sanctions on Chinese officials and individuals who forcefully push for the controversial Hong Kong version of the National Security Law and undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy status. Under the bill, banks that do business with Chinese officials who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy would also be sanctioned.