The Florida congressman who leads Republicans on the U.S. House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee cheered protesters who took to the streets of Hong Kong in recent weeks against the communist regime’s policies.
The protests, which started over a proposed extradition policy that could lead activists in Hong Kong to be deported to mainland China, have resulted in the shutdown of the Hong Kong airport. After months of protests, Hong Kong’s leadership announced on Wednesday it would not pursue the proposed policy.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., welcomed the news and weighed in on Thursday.
“Following several months of mass civilian protests in Hong Kong, Beijing instructed Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam to fully withdraw the extradition bill. I commend Beijing for recognizing the underlying cause of the massive protests and pulling the bill. These protests sent a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Xi Jinping, a message which reinforced that rule of law is paramount to the preservation of freedom and democracy. Without rule of law, Hong Kong would not be the economic powerhouse that is it today, home to thousands of multinational corporations and one of the highest economic freedom indexes in the world,” Yoho said.
The North Florida Republican insisted the protests were successful--and raised a series of issues.
“Although the mass protests originated with the introduction of the extradition bill, this discontent led to unprecedented levels of civil unrest in Hong Kong that are far greater than the 2014 Umbrella Movement,” Yoho said. “As a result, other grievances of the Hong Kong people came to light, which need to be addressed by the leaders of Hong Kong – without interference from Beijing. These additional requests include: officially retracting descriptions of the protests as .riots,’ dropping charges against protestors, launching an investigation into police force and allowing universal suffrage so voters can pick their leaders directly without Beijing’s involvement.
“Of the five demands, removal of the extradition bill was the most significant,” Yoho said in conclusion. “Chief Executive Lam’s announcement of the withdrawal shows that the CCP can and will listen. The CCP and Chief Executive Lam must continue to listen to the people of Hong Kong and find a peaceful and just path forward. I am proud of those who stood against the unwarranted and authoritarian-style bill that exposed deep concerns over the Hong Kong government’s legitimacy and autonomy. This trying time in Hong Kong’s history shows that freedom will not be compromised and must be constantly guarded.”
Last month, Yoho teamed up with a top Democrat to sound the alarm on China’s handling of protests in Hong Kong. U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., the chairman of the Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, paired up with Yoho to back the protests.
“The Hong Kong people are peacefully expressing their opposition to China’s failure to live up to the promises it made about Hong Kong’s autonomy in the Joint Declaration and Hong Kong Basic Law,” Sherman said. “As a major power, China must listen to the people of Hong Kong and not violently suppress peaceful protests. The world is watching.”
Yoho and Sherman pointed to the “United States-Hong Kong Policy Act” which was enacted back in 1992. That act committed the U.S. to backing a “high degree of autonomy” for Hong Kong and insisted the “human rights of the people of Hong Kong are of great importance to the United States.”
First elected to Congress in 2012 after he upset longtime U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., in the primary, Yoho has made his mark on Capitol Hill focusing on international issues including a stint as vice chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. From his perch on the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee--which he chaired when the GOP controlled the House--Yoho has been a leading opponent of the Chinese regime and a strong supporter of Taiwan.