A bipartisan group of US senators and representatives said the Umbrella Movement embodied "the peaceful aspirations" of the people of Hong Kong. China asked the US lawmakers to "stop meddling" in its affairs.
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow and the entire Umbrella Movement were nominated by US lawmakers for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The Umbrella Movement began in 2014 with the mobilization of tens of thousands of protesters, who demanded fully free leadership elections to replace the system where Hong Kong's chief executive is selected by a pro-Beijing committee.
The bipartisan group, composed of four senators and eight members of the House of Representatives, sent a letter to the Nobel Committee saying the nomination was made "in recognition of their peaceful efforts to bring political reform and self-determination to Hong Kong."
"Wong, Law, and Chow and the entire Umbrella Movement embody the peaceful aspirations of the people of Hong Kong who yearn to see their autonomies and way of life protected and their democratic aspirations fulfilled," the statement read.
In reference to the controversial nature of the nomination, the congressional lawmakers reminded the Nobel Committee of its past "willingness to brave the displeasure, and outright retribution, of the Chinese Communist Party and government," with the example of the prize awarded to Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo."
Wong, 21, Law, 24 and Chow, 27, said they were "honored" by the recognition in a joint statement. The young activists welcomed their nomination as a positive development in the midst of setbacks.
Activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law arriving at a sentencing hearing at the High Court in Hong Kong in 2017
Nomination angers Chinese government
In a Foreign Ministry statement, Beijing asked US lawmakers to "stop meddling" in Hong Kong and China's internal affairs and reminded them that the protests of the movement in 2014 were "downright illegal."
All three of the activists are currently appealing prison sentences delivered in August 2017 for their role in the Umbrella Movement. Two of them were recently banned from running for office.
jcg/kms (AP, dpa)