Protesters in Hong Kong are rallying for the passage of human rights legislation sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) that was debated on the House floor today.
“People by the tens of thousands in Hong Kong have demonstrated in favor of bills we are considering here today, said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation. “In doing so, they have taken great risk to themselves and showed tremendous courage. The least we can do is pass these bills.”
Smith’s bill, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, was one of eight the condemns the interference of China in Hong Kong’s affairs.
“I’ve heard it said that ‘the business of Hong Kong is business’, but it is clear to me now that the business of Hong Kong is freedom and democracy,” said Smith, which requires the U.S. government to assess if American-made products, including software and technology, have been transferred from Hong Kong to China for mass surveillance or predictive policing.
Smith said that President Xi’s government “excels in crushing bodies, shattering bones, torturing dissidents and filling concentration camps—massive crimes against humanity for which there has been little or no accountability or sanction.”
The legislation requires the President to “identify and sanction persons in Hong Kong or in mainland China—with visa denial responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and serious abuses of human rights.”
“It contains a waiver provision that helps ensure that our actions protect the great people of Hong Kong and enhance Hong Kong’s autonomy rather than inadvertently harming it,” Smith said.
Smith called his proposal “a blueprint for meaningful action.”
“We have always believed that every person in China deserves better than the brutality so many endure and the systematic violations of their universally recognized human rights,” said Smith. “Solemn promises made by Beijing are rarely kept and far too many leaders of the free world are far too eager to blindly accept fiction over fact.”
Two New Jersey Democrats, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) and Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), are among the 47 co-sponsors of Smith’s bi-partisan bill.HR 3289