In-Depth: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bill to reaffirm America’s commitment to Hong Kong’s democracy, human rights, and legal system at a time when the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy:
“We introduce this legislation today because democracy and freedom are under assault in Hong Kong, and it is critical for the Congress to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy, to the human rights guaranteed the people of Hong Kong, and to those peacefully protesting the Chinese government’s increasingly rough oversight of Hong Kong. It is in everyone’s interest that Hong Kong remain a free and prosperous bridge between China and the world. But if Beijing intends to force Hong Kong into becoming just another mainland Chinese city under authoritarian rule, we must reevaluate whether Hong Kong warrants the special status granted under U.S. law.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), an original cosponsor of this bill and the chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), added:
“This legislation makes clear that the U.S. Congress stands with the people of Hong Kong in their effort to preserve human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong. If the extradition bill moves forward and Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions continue to erode due to interference from the Chinese government, the Congress has no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong can receive preferential economic and trade benefits under U.S. law.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the CECC co-chair who sponsored this bill’s companion in the Senate, said:
“As over one million Hong Kongers take to the streets protesting amendments to the territory’s extradition law, the U.S. must send a strong message that we stand with those peacefully advocating for freedom and the rule of law and against Beijing’s growing interference in Hong Kong affairs. I am proud to re-introduce legislation that places the U.S. firmly on the side of human rights and democracy and against those who would erode the freedoms and autonomy guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong, freedoms that have made the city a prosperous global commercial hub governed by the rule of law.”
This legislation has the support of six bipartisan cosponsors evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
Of Note: Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom until it became a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on June 30, 1997. The Chinese and British governments agreed in their Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would continue to practice a democratic, capitalist system of government and law for at least 50 years after being reunified with socialist China. It has never been publicly stated what will happen to Hong Kong’s governance in 2047 (Macau, a similarly-governed former Portuguese colony, will be in the same situation in in 2049).
China's perceived interference in Hong Kong's affairs have raised questions over whether the communist regime was abiding by the terms of the "one country, two systems" policy. A wave of protests swept Hong Kong recently after its pro-mainland chief executive Carrie Lam proposed a bill to allow extradition of people from Hong Kong to face trial in mainland China. After Lam announced she would postpone consideration of the bill, two million of Hong Kong’s seven million residents took to the streets, with many demanding the bill’s formal withdrawal and Lam’s resignation. Lam said the bill wouldn’t be reintroduced during her time in office if public outcry persists, but stopped short of withdrawing the bill.
Another wave of protests in Hong Kong began on July 1st, the 22nd anniversary of its handover from the United Kingdom to China. Protesters took over the Hong Kong Legislative Council building, where they raised Hong Kong's colonial era flag and spray painted anti-China slogans on the walls. Pro-China police forces have warned that they will soon attempt to clear the legislature.
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStock.com / kuriko917)