Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019
On 25 September, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress passed separate versions of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019 ("the Act"), which has been amended after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor announced her plan to withdraw Hong Kong's Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill 2019 on 4 September.
It is disappointing that the US Congress decided to press ahead with amendments to the US-Hong Kong Policy Act 1992 despite the fact that our Chief Executive has agreed to withdraw the bill relating to the rendition of fugitive offenders. The Act requires the Secretary of State to make annual "certification" regarding the autonomy of Hong Kong, covering a wide array of matters ranging from commercial agreements, law enforcement cooperation, nonproliferation commitments, sanctions enforcement, export control agreements, US-Hong Kong agreements related to taxation and currency exchange, to any other US laws which accord to Hong Kong treatment different to that accorded to Mainland China. It also empowers the US President to impose sanctions on persons identified as responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong. The sanctions include financial measures such as blocking US assets and denying the issue of visas to the persons identified and their immediate family members.
The different treatment of Hong Kong under US laws which we have enjoyed since 1997 is beneficial not only to Hong Kong but also to large numbers of US nationals and businesses living or operating in Hong Kong. It is disappointing that the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently held hearings on Hong Kong but invited only young people not representative of our community at large. They painted a factually incorrect and highly misleading picture of the state of our autonomy, freedom and democracy. Despite my repeated pleas, US Congress has not made an effort to listen to a broader and more balanced range of opinions at its hearings. Such omission is highly regrettable.
There are provisions in the Act which clearly impinge on our high level of autonomy, such as the pace of our democratic development and the enactment of our laws on treason, secession, sedition and subversion. Hong Kong has always enjoyed a high level of autonomy in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Law, robust protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and strong rule of law. We are confident that we as Hong Kong people will be able to satisfactorily manage our own affairs in accordance with the principles of "One Country, Two Systems" and "Hong Kong People Rule Hong Kong" enshrined in the Basic Law. If the Act is passed by Congress, it would inject uncertainty into international perception of the status of Hong Kong. It would be damaging to the economic and political development of Hong Kong, as well as the long-term development of a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Hong Kong.
I hope you will support me in voicing opposition to the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019. Please support me by co-signing this statement of objection. I will forward it to the US Congress with your signatures.