Commissioners Reintroduce The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

June 13, 2019

(Washington, D.C)—U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Chair and Cochair respectively of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), along with CECC Commissioner and former Chair, U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) today reintroduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, bicameral and bipartisan legislation that reaffirms the U.S. commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law at a time when these freedoms and Hong Kong’s autonomy are being eroded through interference by the Chinese government and Communist Party.

The House bill is led by Representative Smith and Representative McGovern and includes Representatives Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Scott Perry (R-PA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) as co-sponsors. Joining Senator Rubio on the Senate bill are Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey, (D-MA), and Josh Hawley (R-MO). Senators King and Cotton and Representative Suozzi are CECC Commissioners.

“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,” said McGovern. “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.”

“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,” said Rubio. “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.”

“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,” said Smith.  “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.”     

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would:

  • Require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to Hong Kong by the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
  • Require the President to identify persons responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including those complicit in the rendition of individuals, in connection to their exercise of internationally recognized rights, to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry into the United States.
  • Require the President to issue a strategy to protect U.S. citizens and businesses from the risks posed by a revised Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, including by determining whether to revise the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition agreement and the State Department’s travel advisory for Hong Kong.     
  • Require the Secretary of Commerce to issue an annual report assessing whether the government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing both U.S. export regulations regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and U.N. sanctions, particularly regarding Iran and North Korea.   
  • Make clear that visa applicants shall not be denied visas on the basis of the applicant’s arrest, detention or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities related to pro-democracy advocacy, human rights, or the rule of law in Hong Kong.