US urged to shelve sales of crowd control gear to Hong Kong police

Hong Kong police arresting protesters near Morrison Street, Hong Kong, on July 28, 2019.
Hong Kong police arresting protesters near Morrison Street, Hong Kong, on July 28, 2019. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

WASHINGTON • A bipartisan group of US lawmakers on Friday urged the Trump administration to suspend future sales of munitions and crowd control equipment to Hong Kong police, which have been accused of using excessive force against anti-government protesters.

A Hong Kong democracy activist, Mr Joshua Wong, last week tweeted pictures of tear gas shells and rubber bullets he said were used by police against protesters.

Representatives Christopher Smith and James McGovern, who chair a congressional human rights commission, made their request in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"We ask that you suspend future sales of munitions and crowd and riot control equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force and publicly announce the US will not contribute to the internal repression of peaceful protest in Hong Kong," they wrote.

They also urged the secretaries to push back "against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments' efforts to characterise the demonstrations as 'riots' and to blame the US for political instability which they alone created".

Mr Wong said on Twitter: "All these weapons are imported from the United States. Given the innumerable proof of police brutality in recent protests, all countries should call a halt to the sale of arms to the notorious Hong Kong Police".

 

Protests against a proposed Bill that would allow people to be extradited to stand trial in mainland China have grown increasingly violent, with police accused of excessive use of force and failing to protect protesters from suspected gang attacks.

The human rights commission is composed of more than 40 members of the US House of Representatives. Mr Smith is Republican and Mr McGovern a Democrat.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 04, 2019, with the headline 'US urged to shelve sales of crowd control gear to HK police'. Print Edition | Subscribe