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Kinzinger, Malinowski Legislation to Protect the People of Hong Kong Moves Forward in Committee

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Washington, DC, October 5, 2020 | Maura Gillespie (202-225-3635) | comments
Last week, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) applauded the passage of their legislation, the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020, out from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support.
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Washington, DC - Last week, Congressmen Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) applauded the passage of their legislation, the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020, out from the House Foreign Affairs Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support. The bill would protect Hong Kongers facing persecution under the Chinese government’s tightening grip of repression by providing refuge for the people of Hong Kong who are wrongfully targeted for fighting for their democratic freedoms. Additional original cosponsors of the bill include Congressmen Dean Phillips (D-MN) and Van Taylor (R-TX). 

The legislation reflects the strong international consensus that the crackdown in Hong Kong by Beijing violates the rights of the territory’s residents and the treaty commitments of the People’s Republic of China. In response to these dramatic setbacks, the Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020 would ensure that the United States government: 

  • Provides temporary refuge to Hong Kongers already in the US that fear persecution if they returned
  • Expedites processing of refugee applications for Hong Kongers fleeing persecution, not subject to the administration's low cap on overall refugee admissions
  • Continues to treat Hong Kongers as distinct from mainland China—despite the elimination of some autonomy for trade purposes
  • Develops a strategy with allies to coordinate international efforts to provide refuge to Hong Kong’s residents fleeing persecution

“The United States will always stand for freedom, a truly foreign concept to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). After enacting their National Security Law in Hong Kong, the CCP once again showed us that they have no interest in being a global partner. They have no interest in recognizing human rights, as they flat out ignore international agreements and suffocate the freedoms of millions,” said Representative Kinzinger. “Our legislation, H.R. 8428, offers protections for those wrongfully detained in Hong Kong and shows our strong support for the oppressed. I’m glad to see our bill move forward today, and look forward to it being brought before the People’s House.” 

“In a matter of weeks this summer, the Chinese government stripped Hong Kong’s residents of their long-established rights to free speech and assembly, violating its treaty commitments to the world,” said Representative Malinowski. “This bill would allow Hong Kongers fleeing persecution to find refuge and their freedoms intact in the United States and many other like-minded countries. And America's gain would be China's loss."

“With the passage of the National Security Law, China has continued to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and restrict the freedoms of its residents. We cannot stand by as China continues to stand against freedom of speech, association, assembly, and the press,” said Representative Phillips. “This bipartisan bill, H.R.8428, offers protections for Hong Kongers who are fleeing oppression or persecution from the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to be considered for refugee status in the United States. I am proud to see it pass out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and I urge my colleagues to take up this important measure on the House Floor. I will continue to join bipartisan groups of my colleagues in standing up to China and injustices across the globe.”

“HKDC applauds the House Foreign Affairs Committee for advancing the bipartisan Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act of 2020 and thanks Rep. Malinowski and Rep. Kinzinger for leading this critical measure. The threat activists face is real as illustrated by the recent case of the 12 Hong Kongers who attempted to escape to Taiwan on a boat due to their protest-related charges. Hong Kong has become the global frontline between the free world and Communist China. The US must live up to our values and be a refuge for those fleeing oppression while keeping pressure on those in power to liberate Hong Kong once again. We are all Hong Kongers now.” said Samuel Chu, Managing Director, HKDC (Hong Kong Democracy Council)

In July, Beijing forced through new National Security Legislation that many feared would be used to stifle free speech and association in Hong Kong. The worst predictions have come true in subsequent months as the new law has provided cover to undermine peaceful assembly, free speech, and democratic processes: 

  • Four student leaders were arrested over social media posts the government claimed were "secessionist"
  • Twelve pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from the September Legislative Council elections, and the elections were eventually delayed for a full year
  • Protest slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of our times” have been banned
  • Hong Kong police issued arrest warrants for six overseas activists, including a US citizen, Samuel Chu, HKDC’s managing director
  • Hong Kong police arrested Jimmy Lai, owner of Apple Daily, the largest opposition newspaper, and other media executives and journalists, and 200 police raided the Apple Daily newsroom
  • 12 HK protesters were detained by Chinese Coast Guard while attempting to escape to Taiwan via boat (whereabouts and status still unknown)

The bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Joaquin Castro (TX), Brad Sherman (CA), Ted Yoho (FL), Albio Sires (NJ), Rodney Davis (IL), David Cicilline (RI), Joe Wilson (SC), Ted Deutch (FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Gerald Connolly (VA), Tom Suozzi (NY), Jamie Raskin (MD), Alan Lowenthal (CA), Jim McGovern (MA), Katie Porter (CA), Bobby Rush (IL).

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