McConnell: Chinese Communist Party Must Not Make Hong Kong a ‘21st-Century Version of Tiananmen Square’

‘In Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the world is seeing the true face of the Chinese Communist Party. The United States has a role to play in standing up for universal principles of human rights, and I am confident we will fulfill it.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Congressional support for the people of Hong Kong:

“In the last few days, the reports and images coming out of Hong Kong have become even more disturbing. The police crackdown on Hong Kongers who are standing up for their freedom and their region’s autonomy has intensified.

“University campuses now literally look like war zones, with government forces laying siege to groups of students and other protestors. Many observers feel the situation may be verging on something truly terrible. In the midst of this crackdown, just today, Hong Kong’s High Court ruled against the executive and in favor of protestors’ rights. Yet another signal it is the government that is acting beyond the bounds of its authorities.

“And this latest escalation against Hong Kongers comes as Beijing faces international fallout from leaked documents that delineate the government’s chilling, systematic campaign against ethnic minorities in another supposedly autonomous region, Xinjiang.

“Hundreds of pages of internal documents from the Chinese Community Party government. A handbook for this Orwellian campaign to effectively erase a religious and ethnic minority in a region that, again, is supposed to be legally distinct from the rest of China.

“This effort is being conducted using, ‘organs of dictatorship’ and ‘absolutely no mercy.’

“These are quotes, apparently, from the Communist Party’s own words:

“‘Absolutely no mercy.’

“‘Round up everyone who should be rounded up.’

“So if it were not already obvious, notwithstanding the double-talk and disinformation from the Communist Party, the problem in Hong Kong is not the Hong Kongers.

“The problem is Beijing’s efforts to erect the same kind of sinister, brutal surveillance state in Hong Kong that China is also trying to set up everywhere else.

“The protestors are not the problem. It is Beijing and the Hong Kong leadership who must de-escalate.

“The Communist Party must know it will hurt them catastrophically if they turn Hong Kong into some 21st-century version of Tiananmen Square. The United States would not forget it and neither would China’s other trading partners across the world.

“So, what can the United States do? Well, in September, I worked to add language to the State and Foreign Ops Appropriations Bill to modify the reporting requirements of the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act.

“My additions would work to expose the current tools the Chinese Communist government is using to subvert the autonomy of Hong Kong and to allow the U.S. government to pay for legal support for Hong Kong democracy activists.

“So one important step to help Hong Kong is for House and Senate Democrats to finally get to ‘yes’ on the appropriations process.

“Last week, I had a productive meeting with the senior senator from Florida on the subject of revising and extending the Hong Kong Policy Act through new legislation.

“I authored that original bill back in 1992 and have been keenly interested in Hong Kong’s status for decades, so I appreciate the leadership Senator Rubio and others have shown, and hope we can find a way to move this important bill.

“But while I support additional legislation, the United States does not need to wait for new laws to act further. There are already significant tools at the administration’s disposal and I strongly encourage them to use them.

“I’ve been encouraged to hear clear statements on China from key members of President Trump’s team in recent months. I would encourage this president, who has seen Chinese behavior for what it is with a clarity that others have lacked, not to shy away from speaking out on Hong Kong himself. The world should hear from him directly that the United States stands with these brave men and women.

“This administration has rightly understood what prior administrations have missed. The old consensus was that economic modernization in China would automatically import our values of freedom and human dignity into their society.

“Now every day reminds us this has not happened. Instead, Beijing is using modern technology it has obtained through integration with the West to further its political and social control over its own population and expand China’s reach beyond its shores.

“So rather than focusing solely on trade, I encourage the administration to make Hong Kong’s autonomy a key topic within our bilateral diplomacy. The administration should also take advantage of the tools Congress already provided in Global Magnitsky to target individuals responsible for egregious human rights abuses.

“In Xinjiang and Hong Kong, the world is seeing the true face of the Chinese Communist Party. The United States has a role to play in standing up for universal principles of human rights, and I am confident we will fulfill it.

“But our allies and partners must also ask themselves whether they are prepared to live in a world increasingly shaped by those who show ‘absolutely no mercy’ to religious and ethnic minorities, and who confront peaceful protest with violence.”

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