Disqualification of Pan-Democratic Lawmakers in Hong Kong

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Beijing’s onslaught against Hong Kong’s freedoms and liberties continues. The United States strongly condemns the “patriotism” resolution passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on November 11which disqualified four members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council for exercising their mandates as lawmakers. This resolution tramples on the rights of the people of Hong Kong to choose their elected representatives as guaranteed by the Basic Law and further exposes Beijing’s blatant disregard for its international commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty. Beijing has eliminated nearly all of Hong Kong’s promised autonomy, as it neuters democratic processes and legal traditions that have been the bedrock of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. Once again, the CCP’s twisted vision of patriotism is a pretext to stifle freedom and the call for democracy. 

The United States will continue to work with our allies and partners around the world to champion the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and call out Beijing’s abject failure to honor its commitments. We will hold accountable the people responsible for these actions and policies that erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms. We stand with the disqualified pan-Democratic lawmakers, the pro-democracy lawmakers who resigned in protest, and the people of Hong Kong. 

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In an investigation, such impurities could indicate the geographic origin of the starting material and the process used to create the agent. Figure 2. Example of forensic chemical identification and analysis, showing a match between Sample 1 and Source A. Opportunities An effective international system for forensic chemical attribution can open up several opportunities, including: Defense. Knowing the source of a chemical agent could help nations better defend against future attacks and, when appropriate, take military action in response to an attack.  Legal response. Source attribution may provide information to help find and prosecute attackers or to impose sanctions. Deterrence. The ability to trace chemical agents to a source might deter future use of chemical weapons.  Challenges Chemical database. Creating a comprehensive international database of chemical fingerprints would require funding and international collaboration to sample chemicals from around the world. Finding perpetrators. Matching a chemical to its sources does not reveal who actually used it in an attack. Almost all investigations require additional evidence. Samples. Collecting a sufficient sample for attribution can be challenging, as can storing and transporting it using a secure chain of custody—potentially over great distance—to one of the 18 authorized biomedical labs worldwide. International cooperation. Lack of cooperation can delay investigations and may compromise sample quality.  Cooperation is also essential for creating an international database. Standardization. Attribution methods are complex and require standardized, internationally accepted protocols to ensure results are reliable and trusted. Such protocols do not yet exist for attributing a chemical weapons attack. Policy Context and Questions The following questions are relevant to building an effective, trusted system for tracing attacks using forensic chemical attribution: How can federal agencies promote and contribute to the international standardization of scientific methods for forensic chemical attribution? Which agency or agencies should lead this effort? How can the international community create and implement a framework for cooperation and trust in forensic chemical attribution? What actions could promote or incentivize creation of an internationally accepted database of unique chemical fingerprints for attributing chemical agents to their sources? What can be done to fully identify and address the scientific and technological gaps in current capabilities for attributing a chemical agent to its source? For more information, contact Karen Howard at (202) 512-6888 or HowardK@gao.gov.
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