Chairs Condemn Violence Against China Human Rights Advocates in the United States

(Washington)--Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the Chair and Cochair, respectively, of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission (CECC), issued the following statement with regard to videos showing China human rights advocates being beaten by pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) counter-protestors during San Francisco’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit last week:

”We are outraged by videos showing harassment and assault against human rights advocates who gathered in San Francisco last week to protest CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States and ongoing human rights abuses by the People’s Republic of China. The constitutionally-protected right to peacefully protest must be respected, and law enforcement must step in where peaceful protestors are met with violence.

“The intimidation began before Xi arrived, with prominent human rights advocates such as Anna Kwok of the Hong Kong Democracy Council receiving horrendous threats on social media after announcing her plans to participate in anti-CCP protests.

“Crowds of Hong Kongers, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other advocacy groups gathered in San Francisco to peacefully demonstrate against Xi’s participation at the APEC summit due to China’s horrendous human rights record. Many reported being attacked by pro-CCP counter-protestors. A group of Tibetan youth activists claimed they were assaulted and had their banners stolen by pro-CCP demonstrators wearing masks, while Tibetan advocate Chemi Lhamo said she was surrounded and harassed for nearly 15 minutes and subjected to hair pulling, physical assault, and the stealing of her cell phone, which was tossed into nearby water, presumably because it contained evidence identifying her assailants.

“One human rights organization alleged that the counter-protestors may have ties to the Chinese consulate, raising concerns of official Chinese support for these attacks.

“We, the Chairs of the CECC, strongly condemn the reported violence perpetrated against individuals exercising their rights of freedom of expression and assembly in the United States. We urge San Francisco County police to review these reports and pursue justice as appropriate.” 

The CECC, which has a statutory mandate to monitor the PRC’s human rights record, has documented the PRC’s long-arm harassment of dissidents and Chinese diaspora members in the United States and elsewhere abroad.  The CECC held a hearing entitled “Countering China’s Global Transnational Repression Campaign” two months ago.