China’s Aggression toward Hong Kong Shows It’s Time to Pass the Hong Kong Democracy Act
Representative Chris Smith, Co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) and the prime sponsor of the bipartisan and bicameral Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, issued the following statement about the demonstrations in Hong Kong and the escalating threats by the Chinese Communist government against Hong Kong:
“If the Hong Kong government is truly backing off its confrontational extradition efforts—and we hope this is for real—then we might be at the start of lasting relief. But that one decision is not enough. Hong Kong needs to do more to secure free elections, democratic institutions and autonomy.
“My legislation, the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (HR 3289), with its reinforcing mechanisms, including sanctions for those who commit human rights abuses and work to gut Hong Kong’s autonomy, sends a strong message of support to the freedom loving people of Hong Kong who are threatened by Beijing’s crackdown,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the House bill.
“This summer’s inspiring protests in Hong Kong are a daily reminder of the stark differences between free and authoritarian societies. Congress must pass the bill as soon as we return in September and show the world that we stand united with the people of Hong Kong who are rightly seeking to maintain the autonomy and fundamental freedoms promised them by the Chinese Communist Party.
“It is unclear whether Carrie Lam and her government will be trusted by the Hong Kong people to address the root causes of the demonstrations. Over the last 13 weeks, the demonstrations have become about the future of Hong Kong’s freedoms & autonomy. Addressing these grievances will take more than a withdrawn extradition bill. The root of the Hong Kong people’s dissatisfaction is the shrinking of its open society and political breathing space. These are the things that must be recognized and addressed for trust and the “One Country, Two Systems” model to be restored.
“The violence and use of force perpetrated against the protestors by thugs and police is extremely alarming. I was the first member of Congress to call on the Trump Administration to suspend the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and other crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong Police—action that is all the more urgent now after watching the tactics used by police over the past weekend.
“Also alarming are the repeated threats of intervention made by Chinese officials, particularly so given that this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. The Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese governments are alone responsible for the legitimate grievances expressed by the protestors and they alone can end the protests by addressing their demands for universal suffrage, investigation of police tactics, and a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill. Blaming the U.S. government for the protests is simply cowardly propaganda and not befitting a nation such as China with aspirations of global leadership.
“Five years ago, I introduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to allow for more flexible and robust U.S. responses to the steady erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights. It is time to pass this legislation. When the Congress reconvenes next week, I will push for passage of this bipartisan and bicameral legislation and for the suspension of the sale of munitions and crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong Police.
“The Administration must also articulate clearly to Beijing the cost of intervention and their continued erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, rule of law, and democratic freedoms.
“The whole world has a stake in a peaceful and just resolution in Hong Kong. Beijing’s actions there—just like its repressive actions against Uyghurs, Tibetans, human rights lawyers, Christians and other religious communities—is an indicator of how China’s Communist rulers will act globally and whether they can be trusted to uphold trade and other international agreements.”