Letter to Congress Urging Passage of The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

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Support Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838/H.R.3289)
The enclosed letter is addressed to the following Congressional leaders individually:

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
SFRC Chairman James Risch
SFRC Ranking Member Robert Menendez
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
HFAC Chairman Eliot Engel
HFAC Ranking Member Michael McCaul
Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney
Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
CECC Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern
CECC Co-Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio

For example:

The Speaker of the House of Representatives
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
H-232 The Capitol
Washington DC, 20515

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

As supporters of human rights and democracy, with deep concern for Hong Kong, we strongly urge the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S.1838/H.R.3289, introduced in Congress on June 13, 2019. The 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act (PL 102-383) vitally needs updating to meet the escalating crisis that has dominated the news for months. We urge you to move this bill through committee and schedule a vote in your respective chambers on this important legislation without delay.

The Hong Kong Policy Act demonstrated a strong U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy in Hong Kong and acceptance of China’s invitation to treat Hong Kong separately from the rest of China with regard to trade, investment, commerce, immigration and other cultural and educational relations. China committed to this special status in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which allows Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy,” and guarantees that democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights will be maintained under the “one country, two systems” model. The Joint Declaration itself guarantees rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, “including those of the person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, of correspondence, of strike, of choice of occupation, of academic research and of religious belief.”

Beijing has violated these solemn commitments by eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law since the 1997 handover, especially in recent years. Over the same period, the Beijing-appointed Hong Kong government has proven unable or unwilling to safeguard Hong Kong’s autonomy. It has become complicit in undermining basic freedoms. The ongoing onslaught on the rule of law will not stop without the democratic reform promised in the Basic Law. This situation harms not only Hong Kong people but also the city’s vast amount of trade and finance, adversely affecting the U.S. business community –- including 85,000 Americans based in Hong Kong.

We are deeply disturbed by the recent parade of Chinese and Hong Kong government infractions of these basic policies. Beijing’s 2014 White Paper on Hong Kong effectively dismissed the continued applicability of the Joint Declaration. Beijing refused to offer long-promised democratic reforms in 2014-15. Elected legislators were barred from taking up their office in the partially democratic Legislative Council. Select opposition candidates were not allowed to run for office. Pro-democracy protesters faced harsh sentences. A political party was banned, and the Hong Kong government expelled the foreign journalist who hosted the party’s convenor. Most recently, the proposed extradition law would have made anyone living in or transiting Hong Kong vulnerable to China’s highly-politicized criminal justice system –- notorious for human rights abuses and injustice.

These activities have led in recent weeks to massive protests of up to two million people. The government has resorted to repression instead of responding to public concerns. Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have allowed and even encouraged abusive police practices to quell the protests, leaving the community in chaos. Requests for an independent investigation have been ignored. Authorities are even credibly suspected of complicity in the beating of dozens of protesters and bystanders by a marauding criminal gang.

The U.S. Government needs additional tools between simply reporting on Hong Kong’s special status or revoking it. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act expands the policy toolbox in the following ways:

(1) Requiring annual recertification by the Secretary of State of Hong Kong’s autonomy, which adds teeth and vital political judgment to the oversight process.

(2) Requiring Commerce, Treasury, and the State Department to report on whether the government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing American export laws regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and UN sanctions, which addresses the vital question of technology transfers.

(3) Providing authority to sanction those individuals responsible for suppressing human rights in Hong Kong, which serves to emphasize the core nature of human rights and the rule of law both in U.S. foreign policy and in the success of Hong Kong.

(4) Prohibiting U.S. visa denials for Hongkongers on the grounds of conviction of offences related to the demonstrations, which ensures protection for the guardians of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

(5) Banning travel to the U.S. by those responsible for violations of human rights and other commitments related to Hong Kong, which ensures individual accountability.

(6) Reporting to Congress on those sanctioned by the U.S. Government related to Hong Kong, which better informs congressional decisions going forward.

We are grateful to the members of the House and Senate who have sponsored and co-sponsored the bill, and to the Speaker of the House for expressing her support. We understand the bill is not perfect and appreciate efforts to strengthen and broaden its coverage that can be pursued in the legislative process. We strongly encourage passage.

With highest urgency,

Signed (in alphabetical order), Affiliation (for identification purposes only)

Michael Abramowitz, Freedom House
Jean-Philippe Beja, CERI-Sciences-Po
Lucien Bianco, Ecole des hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris
Teng Biao, the City University of New York
Susan Blum, University of Notre Dame
Annie Boyajian, Freedom House
Anne-Marie Brady, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Eric Brown, Hudson Institute
Kevin Carrico, Monash University
Melissa Chen, Ideas Beyond Borders
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, Humanity Beyond Borders, Thailand
Huang Ciping, Wei Jingsheng Foundation
Donald Clarke, George Washington University
Jerome A. Cohen, New York University
Sarah Cook, Freedom House
Anders Corr, Journal of Political Risk
Wang Dan, Former Tiananmen Student Leader
Mai'a Davis Cross, Northeastern University
Michael C. Davis, Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
Larry Diamond, Hoover Institute/Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University
Consiglio DiNino, Former Member of The Senate of Canada
John Dotson, Jamestown Foundation
Jim Feinerman, Georgetown University Law Center
Leta Hong Fincher, Columbia University
Martin Flaherty, Princeton University
Charles Foran, Past President, PEN Canada
Edward Friedman, University of Wisconsin
Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of US House of Representatives
Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University
James C. Hathaway, University of Michigan Law School
Clive Hamilton, Charles Sturt University, Canberra
Henry Li Hengqing, Tiananmen Student Leader
Denise Ho, Hong Kong Singer and Activist
Denise Y. Ho, Yale University
Sharon Hom, Human Rights in China
Victoria Tin-bor Hui, University of Notre Dame
Ho-fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University
Marie Holzman, Solidarité Chine, France
Lionel Jensen, University of Notre Dame
Wei Jingsheng, Chinese Dissident
Anne Kerlan, Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris
Mai Khoi, Vietnamese Singer and Activist
David Kilgour, Former Canadian Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific
Thomas E. Kellogg, Georgetown University Law Center
Mark P. Lagon, Georgetown University and Friends of Global Fight
Ching Kwan Lee, UCLA
Liane Lee, 1989 Tiananmen Massacre Survivor
Steven I. Levine, University of Montana
Margaret Lewis, School of Law, Seton Hall University
Y. Joseph Lian, Yamanashi Gakuin University, Japan
Perry Link, University of California Riverside and Princeton University
Dimon Liu, Independent Human Rights Activist
Lewis Liú, Chinese in Entertainment / Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival
Winston Lord, Former U.S. Ambassador to China
Dan Lynch, City University of Hong Kong
Alice Lyman Miller, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
James Millward, Georgetown University
Omar Mohammed, Mosul Eye
Peter Moody, University of Notre Dame
Kimberley Cy. Motley, Human Rights Attorney
David Mulroney, Former Canadian Ambassador to China
Andrew Nathan, Columbia University
Margaret Ng, Former Member of Hong Kong Legislative Council
Lynette Ong, University of Toronto
Ann Patterson, Peace People Ireland Executive
Kar-wai Poon, University of Lyon
Rob Precht, Justice Labs
Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Georgetown University
Orville Schell, Asia Society
Marion Smith, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Timothy Snyder, Yale University
Dorothy J. Solinger, University of California, Irvine
Xiaokang Su, Exiled Chinese Writer
Mark Anthony Taylor, Macquarie University, Sydney
Anne F. Thurston, Johns Hopkins SAIS
Glenn Tiffert, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Nury Turkel, Uyghur Human Rights Project
Arthur Waldron, University of Pennsylvania
Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine
Joshua Wong, Hong Kong Protester
Max Wong, University of Hong Kong
Teresa Wright, California State University, Long Beach
Jieh-min Wu, Academia Sinica, Taiwan