A bipartisan group of senators formally expressed support Wednesday for protesters in Hong Kong who are opposing a law which would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.
The proposed law has faced widespread protest for infringing upon the rights of Hong Kong residents, who have their own separate government as "special administrative region" of China.
"The extradition law proposed by Beijing loyalists in Hong Kong would allow political dissidents, minorities, and foreign travelers in Hong Kong to be spirited away to China’s secret police on the mainland. The people of Hong Kong are assembling in the streets to resist this threat to their freedom and send a message to the Chinese Communist Party," the twelve senators said in a statement.
The senators who signed it are: Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), Mitt Romney (R., Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), Joe Manchin (D., W.V.), Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), Deb Fischer (R., Neb.), Angus King (I., Maine), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.).
"Hong Kong demonstrators know what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989, unlike so many Chinese on the mainland. They know the risk they run by defying the Chinese Communist Party. The demonstrators’ courage in the face of threats, police batons, and tear gas is an example for the world to follow. We support these demonstrators as they fight for freedom and call on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to respect their right to peacefully protest," the senators said.
At least 72 people were injured during protests on Wednesday, as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators. Legislators announced in the morning that debate of the bill would be postponed "to a later time to be determined" as protesters gathered. Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has not withdrawn the bill.
Opponents of the bill point to China's alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, and forced confessions to argue it should not proceed. Critics also view the bill as a further attempt by China to limit Hong Kong's freedoms.