At a congressional hearing today, Rep Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act said “the great people of Hong Kong had a sweeping, draconian, anti-democracy policy imposed upon them yesterday—the so-called National Security Law.”
Smith said, “President Xi Jinping has today massively broken his government’s solemn promise embedded in the Basic Law and in an internationally recognized treaty—the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration—to respect the human rights of the people of Hong Kong and to assure a high degree of autonomy.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had made those commitments as part of the deal to convey Hong Kong from the United Kingdom back to China. The treaty was supposed to be enforce for 50 years—until 2047.
According to Smith, the new law includes severe criminal penalties aimed at Hong Kong democracy activists including “collusion” with lawyers, human rights organizations, journalists, academicians and lawmakers outside of China.
“Xi Jinping’s assault on Hong Kong democracy activists is the latest example of the Chinese Communist Party’s cruelty and weakness. The genocide against Muslim Uighurs, the pervasive use of torture throughout China, forced abortion and gendercide, and worsening religious persecution underscores the pathetic state of human rights abuse by Xi and his government, ” Smith said.
“It is now likely that the CCP will jail and torture Hong Kong human rights activists for simply meeting with or for being in contact with members of the U.S. Congress,” Smith said. “This perverse violation of free speech and association must be fought with sanction and other tools,” he added.
The law also authorizes China’s national security agencies to enhance their presence in Hong Kong. Smith said that is the “harbinger of more violence against democracy activists.”
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo certified on May 27 Hong Kong was no longer entitled special treatment under U.S. law because of its’s diminished autonomy.
Two days later at a White House press conference on May 29 President Trump said, “I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment.
“My announcement today will affect the full range of agreements we have with Hong Kong, from our extradition treaty to our export controls on dual-use technologies and more, with few exceptions.
“The United States will also take necessary steps to sanction PRC and Hong Kong officials directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy …Our actions will be strong. Our actions will be meaningful.”
Today, Secretary Pompeo said, “The United States will not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong into its authoritarian maw. Last week, we imposed visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. We are ending defense and dual-use technology exports to the territory. Per President Trump’s instruction, we will eliminate policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, with few exceptions.