Hong Kong Protesters Get Bipartisan Backing From Congress Amid China Extradition Debate
Do you support these bills to deter China from infringing on Hong Kong's autonomy?
by Countable | 6.18.19
The streets of Hong Kong have been clogged with massive demonstrations for days against a proposed bill that would allow the extradition of criminal suspects to stand trial in communist mainland China, and while Hong Kong’s pro-mainland leader has called off a vote for now, the protesters will have bipartisan allies in the U.S. Congress if the issue arises once again.
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, apologized for the unrest her proposal caused and said it wouldn’t be brought up again during her tenure as the chief executive, but stopped short of withdrawing the bill entirely or offering to resign.
The protesters, whose ranks swelled to an estimated two million of Hong Kong’s seven million residents following the announcement of the postponed vote, view the extradition proposal as an infringement of the “one country, two systems” policy agreed to when the United Kingdom turned Hong Kong over to communist China in 1997. Under the Joint Declaration agreed to by the two governments, Hong Kong would continue to practice a democratic, capitalist system of government under common law for at least 50 years (through 2047).
A bipartisan bill known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (H.R. 3289), introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), would require federal agencies to certify that Hong Kong remains autonomous before approving its preferred trade status, in addition to sanctioning those involved with extraditing people to mainland China and developing a strategy to protect American citizens and businesses from the legal change. It was developed by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which is chaired by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Another bill sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ed Markey (D-MA) known as the Hong Kong Policy Re-evaluation Act (S. 1824) would require regular reports about members of the Chinese government involved with the extradition or coercive rendition of persons from Hong Kong to mainland China that could inform decisions about sanctions. It would also require reports about efforts by China to use Hong Kong to circumvent export controls and carry out espionage.
While it’s unclear whether these bills will be brought up for a vote, the House approved a resolution supporting Hong Kong’s autonomy and urging adherence to the “one country, two systems” policy by voice vote in November 2017.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Wpcpey via Wikimedia / Creative Commons)
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