A bipartisan group of US lawmakers wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday requesting that his department’s upcoming assessment of Hong Kong’s autonomy reflect a recent wave of arrests by the city’s authorities of pro-democracy activists. Citing their roles in unlawful protests, Hong Kong police rounded up at least 15 opposition camp activists earlier this month, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and prominent barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming, known as the city’s “father of democracy”. “As you know, the situation in Hong Kong has continued to decline over recent months even as Covid-19 has stymied the pro-democracy protests that garnered the world’s attention,” the eight US lawmakers, led by Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Representative James McGovern, a Democrat, wrote in their letter to Pompeo. Denouncing Lee’s arrest, the lawmakers called the 81-year-old “a pillar of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong and staunch advocate of the rule of law and peaceful protest”. In addition to the recent arrests, the US lawmakers also raised concern about the assertion made by Beijing’s liaison office in the special administrative region that it is not bound by a clause in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, that protects against interference in the city’s affairs by mainland departments. “This constitutes a significant departure from previous statements about the role of these two offices in Hong Kong affairs and risks further diminishing Hong Kong’s autonomy,” the letter said. “Hong Kong’s future is of great importance to the United States and to the international community,” the letter continued. “Failing to address Beijing’s efforts to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy will undermine the freedom and human rights of its people, its valuable role as a partner to the United States, and its unique role in the international economy.” The letter called for a “comprehensive, clear, and accurate” assessment of Hong Kong’s autonomy under new reporting requirements stipulated by the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, legislation that was enacted last November after a swift and broadly supportive passage through Congress. Among other provisions, the legislation requires that the State Department issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy with specific regard to human rights and the rule of law, and directs the US administration to sanction any individual deemed to be responsible for the erosion of that autonomy. The legislation requires that the report be distributed to the foreign affairs committee of the Senate and House, and to several other congressional committees, within 180 days of the act’s passage on November 27 last year. “It is critical that the United States use the available tools under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and other authorities, to make clear to Beijing that its violations of its international commitments and its commitments to the people of Hong Kong will have consequences,” the lawmakers wrote. Additional reporting by Robert Delaney.