Supporting Human Rights And Democracy In Hong Kong

As The Author Of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, Leader McConnell Supports The Citizens Of Hong Kong Protecting Their Rights And Is Working To Expedite A New Bill To Reaffirm American Support For Hong Kong’s Autonomy And Freedoms


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “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…. [I]f 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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 11/18/2019)

  • SEN. McCONNELL: “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…. 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.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 11/18/2019)

SEN. JIM RISCH (R-ID), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: “The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and tell the Chinese Communist Party that what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong is wrong. After more than two decades of broken promises, it is time to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong …” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 11/14/2019)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member: “The world witnesses the people of Hong Kong standing up every day to defend their long-cherished freedoms against an increasingly aggressive Beijing and Hong Kong government. Their cries have been met with violence, and young Hong Kong lives have tragically been lost. Now more than ever, the United States must send a clear message to Beijing that the free world stands with Hong Kongers in their struggle.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 11/14/2019)


‘After A Week Of Intensified Protests In Hong Kong,’ The Senate Is Expediting Consideration Of The Hong Kong Human Rights And Democracy Act

“After a week of intensified protests in Hong Kong, the U.S. Senate has moved to expedite the passage of a bill that would open a path to sanctions against those seen to be eroding freedoms in the Chinese territory…. The bill, a version of which passed unanimously in the House, would mark the start of a dramatic shift in the relationship between the United States and Hong Kong. It mandates a yearly review of Hong Kong’s special status with the United States, which allows it to be treated differently from mainland China and underpins its position as an international business hub.” (The Washington Post, 11/16/2019)

  • “Building on the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 authored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), this amended bipartisan bill would require the Secretary of State to certify, no less than annually, whether Hong Kong continues to warrant special treatment under U.S. law based on the autonomy of its government decision-making related to human rights, law enforcement and extradition requests, universal suffrage, judicial independence, police and security functions, export controls, and sanctions enforcement. The legislation would also mandate the President to impose sanctions against foreign persons determined to be responsible for extrajudicial rendition, arbitrary detention, torture, or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, or other gross violations of human rights in Hong Kong.  In addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress on violations of U.S. export controls laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in Hong Kong.” (Sen. Rubio, Press Release, 11/14/2019)

“Many protesters have voiced support for the bill, including Joshua Wong, a leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, and Denise Ho, a pro-democracy activist and artist. Both met with members of Congress in September.” (Lindsay Maizland, “How Is Congress Trying to Support the Hong Kong Protesters?,” Council on Foreign Relations, 11/18/2019)


Leader McConnell Authored The United States-Hong Kong Policy Act Of 1992 And Has Kept A Keen Interest In The Status Of Hong Kong’s Autonomy And Rule Of Law

SEN. McCONNELL, 1991: “I rise today to introduce the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act … Despite a sustained economic boom and emergence of democratic institutions, concern about post-1997 Chinese compliance with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy under the principle of ‘one country, two systems,’ has caused confidence in the colony to ebb and flow…. Hong Kong will be able to exercise the full extent of autonomy promised it under the Joint Declaration only with the cooperation of the international community…. America can provide assurance and leadership by pronouncing our policy interests in Hong Kong now. We should step forward to guide the international community in support of the autonomy promised Hong Kong by clearly stating how we will deal with the territory up to and after the 1997 reversion. The bill I’m introducing today makes such a statement.” (Sen. McConnell, Congressional Record, S. 13412, 9/20/1991)

UNITED STATES-HONG KONG POLICY ACT OF 1992: “Support for democratization is a fundamental principle of United States foreign policy. As such, it naturally applies to United States policy toward Hong Kong…. The human rights of the people of Hong Kong are of great importance to the United States and are directly relevant to United States interests in Hong Kong.  A fully successful transition in the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong must safeguard human rights in and of themselves.  Human rights also serve as a basis for Hong Kong's continued economic prosperity.” (S. 1731, 102nd Congress)

S. RES. 105, co-sponsored by Sen. McConnell, 1997: “[T]he people of Hong Kong enjoy civil liberties and political freedoms based on the democratic rule of law and the functions of a free market … [T]he United States is committed through the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 to monitoring, advocating and reporting on the continuation of Hong Kong's freedoms under Chinese rule … [T]he United States urges the People's Republic of China to honor both the spirit and the letter of its commitments to accord Hong Kong substantial autonomy as a separate administrative region in a China characterized as ‘one country, two systems’ … [T]he executive branch should exercise due diligence in enforcing the terms and conditions of the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and subsequent acts and provisions concerning the protection of civil liberties and the rule of law in Hong Kong …” (S. Res. 105, 105th Congress)


Leader McConnell Has Closely Followed The Protests In Hong Kong And Warned Beijing Against Eroding ‘Hong Kong’s Special Status And Its Freedoms’

SEN. McCONNELL, June 2019: “Like many of my colleagues, I watched images from Hong Kong this weekend and could not help but be moved by the residents of that metropolis. They are mounting a bold stand to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy from China and, by extension, defend their liberties. Over the weekend, more than a million residents — a staggering proportion of the population, about one in seven—took to the streets to protest a draft law that would allow the people of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. Hong Kong residents rightly view this measure as another erosion of the rule of law and tightening of Beijing’s grip on their imperiled autonomy…. The Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which I sponsored, has for nearly three decades enshrined America’s commitment to preserving Hong Kong’s special status and its freedoms. This draft law is inconsistent with the Hong Kong Policy Act, and puts Hong Kong on the path of becoming just another Chinese city subject to Beijing’s whims.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 6/11/2019)

SEN. McCONNELL, August 2019: “The protestors want their liberties preserved, the territory’s autonomy respected, and justice for those the security services have detained, brutalized or murdered. Contrary to Communist propaganda, this citizens’ uprising is no foreign conspiracy…. The demonstrators are responding to its efforts to exert ever more influence and control over what is supposed to be an autonomous region…. I wrote the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which extended special privileges to the region because of its unique status. This special access to the U.S. and other nations helped drive the investment and modernization that have enriched Hong Kong, and Beijing by extension. Beijing must know the Senate will reconsider that special relationship, among other steps, if Hong Kong’s autonomy is eroded.” (Sen. McConnell, Op-Ed, “We Stand With Hong Kong,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/20/2019)

SEN. McCONNELL, September 2019: “I authored the Hong Kong Policy Act in 1992 and have stayed focused on protecting the region’s autonomy and unique liberties in the decades since. The events of recent months have shown us just how eager Beijing is to erode the freedoms that have helped Hong Kong thrive and which are the basis for our nation’s special relationship with Hong Kong. My amendment [to the State and Foreign Operations funding bill] will expand and update the reporting requirements in that 1992 law to ensure the U.S. maintains a watchful eye on the Chinese Communist Government’s aggressive encroachment on Hong Kong, its authoritarian surveillance throughout China, and its malign political influence activities abroad. And the legislation also dedicates $1.5 million in new funding specifically for democracy promotion in Hong Kong, including legal support for democracy activists.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Release, 9/26/2019)



Related Issues: History, China