Engel, Chabot, Sherman, Yoho, & Smith Introduce Resolution Urging China to Honor Commitments to Hong Kong Autonomy
WASHINGTON—Today, a bipartisan group of members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs announced introduction of a measure (H.Res.422) underscoring the national interest of the United States in the autonomy of Hong Kong on the 20th anniversary of the handover to Mainland China. The resolution, which emphasizes the shared values between the United States and the people of Hong Kong, and which urges China’s adherence to the “one country, two systems” commitment, was offered by Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Steve Chabot; Reps. Ted Yoho and Brad Sherman, Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific; Rep. Chris Smith, Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations and co-Chair of the Hong Kong Caucus.
“July 1st marks 20 years since the handover of Hong Kong to Mainland China and the beginning of the ‘one country, two systems’ experiment. Looking back over the last two decades, I take heart that Hong Kong has maintained a strong and independent judicial system, a professional police force, and a strong respect for freedom of expression. I’m also concerned by increasing Mainland interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, a failure to allow Hong Kong’s people to choose their leaders, and more visible attempts by current leadership to thwart the spirit and the letter of their commitment to in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law,” said Rep. Engel. “United States law deals with Hong Kong as special and distinct from Mainland China. We do so because we share common values with the people of Hong Kong, and because it’s in America’s interest. This measure articulates those interests and underscores our commitment to the people of Hong Kong in realizing the rights and freedoms promised to them twenty years ago.”
“The United States-Hong Kong relationship runs deep. Unfortunately, it has become abundantly clear in recent years, that China is taking systematic steps to limit and restrict the autonomy of Hong Kong and its people,” said Rep. Chabot. “I stand with my colleagues in the House, as we work together to ensure that China adheres to the ‘one country, two systems’ policy and respects the rights of our brave friends in Hong Kong.”
“Saturday will mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. This resolution sends an important message to Beijing that it must adhere to the ‘one country, two systems’ policy that includes extensive freedoms granted to Hong Kong’s residents. PRC encroachment on Hong Kong’s democratic values and agreed autonomy will have a deep impact on U.S. relations with the PRC,” said Rep. Sherman. “The U.S. greatly values its friendship with Hong Kong and its people, and believes that the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement is essential.”
“The 20th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) comes amidst rising uncertainties about Hong Kong’s future. To provide for the transfer, the British government and the PRC signed the Joint Declaration, an international treaty, which in turn provided for Hong Kong’s Basic Law. Under these authorities, the people of Hong Kong were promised 50 years of civil liberties, the opportunity to directly elect their Chief Executive and the members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, and self-governance in areas outside foreign affairs and defense,” said Rep. Yoho. “Recently, however, the PRC has interfered with Hong Kong’s governance, denied the people of Hong Kong elections by universal suffrage, violated civil liberties, and sought to increase the PRC’s influence over and control of Hong Kong. This is just twenty years into the Joint Declaration. Can Hong Kong expect it to get better in the next thirty years? On the occasion of this significant anniversary, this resolution recognizes Hong Kong’s importance and reminds us that Hong Kong deserves to be more than just another Chinese city.”
“The promises made by Beijing twenty years ago to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy, its freedoms and the rule of law are vital interests of the United States and the foundation of the city’s vitality, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Rep. Smith. “Beijing should recognize that Hong Kong’s unique ‘way of life’ is critical for China's own future prosperity and stability. But if erosions to Hong Kong’s autonomy continue, and Hong Kong becomes just another Chinese city stifled by the heavy hand of repression, the U.S. will have to reassess whether Hong Kong warrants special status under U.S. law.”
House Resolution 422 underscores United States national interest in Hong Kong’s autonomy, as promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. It highlights Hong Kong’s unique “one country, two systems” status in as a Special Autonomous Region, which has allowed for the continued flourishing of Hong Kong’s society and economy. The resolution highlights widespread frustration in Hong Kong over increasingly onerous Mainland Chinese influence, including in election reforms and the shocking disappearance of the Hong Kong booksellers. This resolution calls on Beijing to honor their commitment to provide for “one country, two systems” by allowing Hong Kong to safeguard the civil liberties of its citizens, autonomy in domestic affairs, and independent judicial institutions which make Hong Kong unique vis-à-vis U.S. law.