WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the student-led democratic protests in Hong Kong:

“When the British returned the city of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, Beijing promised that Hong Kong would retain its special rights and autonomy. Beijing also promised that in 2017, the people of Hong Kong would be allowed to elect a leader of their own choosing.

“Last month, when the Chinese government announced its plan for the 2017 elections, it became clear that Beijing intends to break this promise by continuing to select the candidates who are allowed to run in 2017.

“I sympathize with the protesters—students and residents of Hong Kong—who feel that Beijing’s decision will further erode their rights and freedoms. I believe that this protest is not just about election mechanics; it is about Hong Kong’s future as an open society under Beijing’s ‘one country, two systems’ regime.

“Over the weekend, Hong Kong authorities used pepper spray and teargas in an attempt to dispel thousands of peaceful protesters who filled the streets. I urge restraint by Hong Kong officials and remind them that the world is watching as these events unfold.”