This is a joint statement by select individuals who belong to the Truman Asia Expert Group. Their combined expertise covers China and the Asia-Pacific region, international security, trade, law, and human rights. In light of the uncertain reach of Hong Kong’s national security law, signatories are anonymous.
As members of the Truman National Security Project, we express deep concern over Hong Kong’s new national security law. This law, as implemented, threatens the livelihoods and freedoms of Hongkongers of all backgrounds who have called Hong Kong home for generations. A day after the law’s implementation, the Hong Kong Police Force arrested around 370 protesters and prominent pro-democracy leader Nathan Law fled Hong Kong. We, therefore, call on the United States, allied, and partner governments to respond swiftly and strongly to the law’s implementation.
Since Hong Kong became a British colony in 1842, the city has been home to millions of ethnic Chinese, Indians, Nepalis, Vietnamese, Westerners, and other groups seeking refuge, prosperity, and safety. This diversity enabled Hong Kong’s emergence as a world-class financial hub, rivaling London and New York while offering fair rule of law, an outstanding civil service, and an independent judiciary.
However, since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hongkongers have vigilantly called out Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials’ attempts to impede on their rights and chip away at Hong Kong’s democratic values. Hong Kongers’ steadfast resolve sparked the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement as well as last year’s Water Revolution.
With the implementation of the new national security law, the ability of Hongkongers to openly protest against their local government and Beijing is dead. It is another chilling signal to the region and the world that the PRC leads through fear, intimidation, and violence, not through peace, cooperation, or friendship. In this way, it echoes other recent actions in Xinjiang, Tibet, the South China Sea, Taiwan, and along the Sino-Indian Border.
Therefore, we call on the U.S. government, allies, and partners to:
- Create a safer refuge for Hongkongers on American soil. Pass and sign into law a combination of the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act and the Hong Kong’s People and Freedom Choice Act that grants Hongkongers visas and permanent residency with a path to American citizenship and does not impose trade-offs with the existing refugee caps.
- Galvanize a global response. Call on the United Nations Secretary-General, the President of the European Commission, Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary-General, and U.S. allies and partners to all appoint Special Envoys on the situation in Hong Kong.
- Clamp down on complicit PRC and CCP officials. Develop a comprehensive sanctions program, utilizing current sanctions legislation (e.g., the U.S. Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, or the Hong Kong Autonomy Act) to sanction CCP, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Liaison Office, and other PRC officials involved in the implementation of this new law.
- Assess the U.S.-based financial assets of PRC and CCP officials. Comprehensively review the financial assets of officials engaged in human rights abuses and foreign corrupt practices from the provincial to the national levels held by U.S.-based financial institutions.
- Diplomatically isolate the PRC’s power grab. Clarify how the U.S. Department of State’s decertification of Hong Kong’s special status under the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 will be implemented.
- Protect U.S. citizens. State unequivocally that the U.S. government rejects as unacceptable the extraterritoriality clause in the law, and will vigorously defend any U.S. citizen who is detained or prosecuted under its auspices.
- Counter the PRC’s efforts to steal U.S. technology. Comprehensively review the relationships that major American tech companies maintain in Hong Kong and the security aspects of those relationships.
- Build bridges with the U.S.’s Hongkonger diaspora to hear their concerns. Bring Hongkonger-Americans to the table so their concerns are heard by U.S. policymakers as they respond to this law.
Hong Kong remains in peril. It is imperative that the U.S. government, allies, and partners that all value freedom of speech, democracy, and rule of law swiftly respond to this power grab by Beijing-based PRC and CCP officials in Hong Kong.