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Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-Hamilton). (Photo: Chris Smith).

Smith bill to protect democracy in Hong Kong headed to White House

Trump expected to sign bill condemning China interference in Hong King

By David Wildstein, November 22 2019 3:55 pm

Human rights legislation sponsored by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) that condemns the interference of China in Hong Kong, is now headed to President Donald Trump.

Smith told the New Jersey Globe that he expects Trump to sign the bill.

“We cannot avert our eyes to what is happening in Hong Kong. We cannot not silence our voices when the rule of law, democracy, human rights, free speech and autonomy are being threatened in Hong Kong,” Smith said.  “We must remain steadfast in support of the people of Hong Kong,”

The New Jersey congressman says he conceived the idea of a bill that would protect democracy in Hong Kong during a 2014 meeting with Hong Kong Democratic Party founder Martin Lee.

Smith introduced his legislation in four separate Congresses over the last five years.  It passed the House and Senate last month.

“Helping the democracy activists is what’s all important and this legislation will make a significant difference,” said Smith.

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.”

“Today, Hong Kong is burning. The status quo is no longer—the brutal government crackdown on democracy activists has escalated,” said Smith. “Tragically, under President Xi Jinping, human rights abuse throughout China has significantly worsened including the pervasive use of torture, religious persecution , human trafficking and genocide against Muslim Uighurs.”

Two New Jersey Democrats, Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) and Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), were among the 47 co-sponsors of Smith’s bi-partisan bill.

“The Hong Kong government prefers bullets and batons over peaceful and political dialogue that would address the Hong Kong people’s rightful grievances. That is the sad and disgusting reality. And it is what the Chinese Communist government does best—suppress, repress, torture and censor.

Smith said in October 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 whole world has a stake in a peaceful and just resolution in Hong Kong,” Smith said. “The passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is an important signal that this Congress considers Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy a critical interest of the United States and the international community.”

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.”

“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,” Smith said during the floor debate.  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.

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