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Another Step in the Right Direction: House Passes Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and PROTECT Hong Kong Act

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act.

These two acts apply pressure to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments and support the pro-democracy demonstrators in their fight for their human rights, as promised to them in the treaty between the United Kingdom and China, which was registered with the United Nations. Those rights were then enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law.

The text of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3289/text. The Wikipedia article on the bill says this:

According to the Congressional Research office,[2][3] the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would direct various departments to assess whether political developments in Hong Kong justify changing Hong Kong’s unique treatment under U.S. law. Specifically, it would:
• Require the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment afforded to Hong Kong by the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.[13]
• Require the President to identify persons responsible for the abductions of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong, including those complicit in the rendition of individuals, in connection to their exercise of internationally recognized rights, to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry into the United States.[13]
• Require the President to issue a strategy to protect U.S. citizens and businesses from the risks posed by a revised Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, including by determining whether to revise the U.S.–Hong Kong extradition agreement and the State Department’s travel advisory for Hong Kong.[13]
• Require the Secretary of Commerce to issue an annual report assessing whether the government of Hong Kong is adequately enforcing both U.S. export regulations regarding sensitive dual-use items and U.S. and U.N. sanctions, particularly regarding Iran and North Korea.[13]
• Make clear that visa applicants shall not be denied visas on the basis of the applicant’s arrest, detention or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in the nonviolent protest activities related to pro-democracy advocacy, human rights, or the rule of law in Hong Kong.[13]

Wikipedia article on Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

For the pro-democracy movement, the first, second, and last items are likely the most significant.

First, if Hong Kong’s autonomy is not guaranteed, it may lose its special status as a trading partner with the U.S. This will put enormous pressure on Hong Kong’s business people. They have significant influence on the Hong Kong government, and to some degree on the Beijing government. The CCP is trying to replace the Hong Kong financial markets with markets in Shenzhen and Shanghai, but even if that is ultimately successful, it will take time – probably some years. Much of the capital from the west that finances China’s business enters through Hong Kong, so losing special status would be a blow not just to Hong Kong, but also to mainland China. It is not something Beijing can just ignore; though the CCP will no doubt downplay its importance.

Next, the second bullet point contains a bombshell in the clause that says that the President must “identify persons…complicit in suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong…and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry into the United States.” That is big. Members of the Hong Kong government and police, as well as members of the Beijing government identified by the U.S. administration as having oppressed the human rights of the people of Hong Kong risk losing investments and property in the U.S. and being denied entry. Given that many wealthy Chinese from the mainland and from Hong Kong have investments and property in the U.S., it is a powerful statement.

Finally, the last bullet point says that the pro-democracy demonstrators are welcome in the U.S. regardless of whether Hong Kong or mainland China says they have committed crimes, as they should be. Fighting for one’s natural human rights is not a crime.

The PROTECT Hong Kong Act is perhaps more symbolic, in that it will restrict the sale of tear gas and other non-lethal munitions to the Hong Kong government and police by U.S. companies. Those non-lethal munitions can undoubtedly be sourced from other countries, so the impact on brutality and violence by the Hong Kong police is probably limited. Nevertheless, it does send another message to the Hong Kong government that the U.S. will not be complicit in its violation of the rights of the demonstrators.

We continue to urge the U.S. government to take additional measures to pressure the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to honor the promises that they have made in formal treaties and in the Basic Law, to respect the rights of all citizens of Hong Kong to self-representation, free speech, free assembly, and a free and impartial legal system (among others). In addition, there must be a free, impartial, and effective investigation into the clearly documented acts of brutality committed by the Hong Kong police. The U.S. has additional legal and diplomatic tools at its disposal, including designating individuals and organizations under the Global Magnitsky Act and placement on the Department of Commerce Entity List. Despite the shameful actions of a few, the vast majority of Americans support the pro-democracy demonstrations. Continued support by prominent Americans, senators, and representatives encourages the demonstrators and adds pressure to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to take necessary steps to guarantee Hong Kong’s rights and freedom. Americans in a position to speak up in support should do so, not hide behind moral equivalence and platitudes to protect their wallets. Have moral courage to do what is right.

Support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

The U.S. Congress is set to debate (and should pass) the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy act soon (tomorrow in the U.S. House of Representatives). Today, massive rallies were held in Hong Kong in support of the bill.

Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of Hong Kongers took part in the rallies, asking for U.S. support of the bill.

As we’ve said before, the U.S. Congress should pass the bill as soon as possible, and President Trump should sign it into law. In addition, we strongly urge President Trump’s administration to designate members of the Hong Kong legislative council, including Carrie Lam, and the entire Hong Kong police force under the Global Magnitsky Act. Further measures should also be taken to add some Hong Kong individuals and companies to the Entities List by the U.S. Commerce Department, preventing them from doing business in or with the U.S. Twenty-eight Chinese companies and organizations were added to the Entities List a few days ago for their part in oppression of the Uyghurs and other Chinese Muslim populations. The people of Hong Kong are also suffering human rights abuses by the Hong Kong government and police, so the Hong Kong government and police, and their supporters in the Hong Kong business community, should be similarly placed on the Entities List.

Unconscionable

Watch this short video clip.

The Hong Kong police have arrested a ten-year-old girl. This child is literally shaking in fear, while a group of grown men carrying guns stand there threatening and intimidating her.

In what civilized society is this acceptable? The Hong Kong police have become a pack of rabid wolves with no fear of consequences and no conscience. They no longer can legitimately be called a police force. It is time to call their brutal acts what they are: crimes against humanity.

At this point, we believe that even an independent investigation into the actions of the Hong Kong police is insufficient. The Hong Kong government and the leadership of the police have proven unwilling and unable to deal with the police brutality in any meaningful way. It is time for the entire Hong Kong executive leadership to resign in disgrace, to completely disband the Hong Kong police force, and for the officers that have perpetrated acts of brutality and violations of basic human rights to be arrested and prosecuted. Let the Hong Kong people, as they demand, elect completely new leadership via a free and fair election with universal suffrage. After that, the new government can stand up a new police force that respects human rights, protects and serves the people of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Demonstrations Continue – With Masks

As many have reported, the Hong Kong mask ban law introduced by Carrie Lam a couple of days ago appears to have had no effect whatsoever on the demonstrations. Lam said that they would be a deterrent on violence and protesting. Predictably, they have not. In fact, violence may have increased. In any case, the demonstrations continue, and as long as the Hong Kong police do not get involved, the demonstrations seem to be mostly peaceful.

More radical protesters have vandalized quite a lot of businesses seen as pro-Beijing, especially subway and train stations (of Hong Kong’s MTR subway and train system, which protesters view as having assisted the police). ATM machines of banks based in mainland China have been vandalized. Stores of businesses based in mainland China and of pro-Beijing businesses have been attacked as well. All of this has led to the entire MTR subway and train system being shut down, banks and grocery stores closing, and shopping malls being closed.

It is likely that the HK government is behind many of the closures, as part of a plan to have the general public blame the inconvenience on the protesters, so that they lose support. Like the other measures tried by the government, it is unlikely to work. The Hong Kong people know what is going on and understand who is behind it. Making life harder for the people of Hong Kong will only increase their anger, and their anger will be directed primarily at the government.

The Hong Kong government is like a football team (American football!) with only one play in its playbook (continually ratchet up pressure and violence on the Hong Kong people), and they run that play over and over, even though just about every time they get tackled for a loss. Most of the fans in the stands (international observers) are heckling them, hoping that the underdog team (the pro-democracy demonstrators) win the game. The demonstrators are using their hearts and determination, their intelligence and creativity, against enormous odds to win. Let’s all hope they do.

Hong Kong Police Brutality, Part 949923875743

As everyone predicted, other than the completely clueless Carrie Lam, the ban on masks in Hong Kong has only led to more protests and violence. The only thing more predictable was that the Hong Kong police would use the mask ban as an excuse to brutalize even more people, whether involved in a protest or not.

The Hong Kong police are out looking for people to beat. This young couple is walking down the street minding their own business, not protesting, not in a large gathering, completely innocent. The mask ban allow police officers to ask people to remove their masks for identification in such a situation. What is does not allow police to do is to tackle them to the ground, injuring them, and putting their knees into their backs. And look who is wearing masks and in a large group. Yeah, it’s the Hong Kong police. But of course, the mask ban doesn’t apply to them. It’s too ironic.

What’s worse is that when the Hong Kong police leadership is shown this video, they will shamelessly deny that there is any problem at all with the behavior of the police. Since they know they will never be held to account, the police act more and more brutally. It is time for sanctions against members of the Hong Kong government and police leadership. The U.S. needs to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as soon as possible and invoke the Magnitsky Act against them immediately.

Unmasking of Hong Kong: The People Say No

As anyone with any sense predicted (obviously that excludes Carrie Lam and the Executive Council) the ban on masks has just led to more protests and more violence, include a 14-year-old boy being shot in the leg by an off-duty police officer.

Within hours of the ban being introduced, there were massive protests involving thousands of people – most all wearing masks.

It is just unfathomable just how stupid the Hong Kong government and police are. This wasn’t a hard call to make. Everyone knew this would happen – except apparently, Carrie Lam. Once again, she’s proven how out of touch she is. She doesn’t understand the thinking and motivations of other people at all. At this point, the whole Hong Kong executive council, starting with Lam, should resign in disgrace. At every turn, they’ve just made matters worse. Can they really not understand that more oppression only leads to more resistance? Can they really not understand that more harsh tactics and brutality by the police just leads to more violence from the protesters as they fight back? The people of Hong Kong will not be intimidated into silence – that’s clear to anyone observing what’s been happening that has any critical thinking ability and an open mind.

The pro-democracy demonstrations and protests will not end until the Hong Kong government responds in a positive way to the Five Demands, or the CCP kills thousands or tens of thousands in the streets of Hong Kong. What will the CCP choose to do?

Unmasking Hong Kong – updated

UPDATE: The anti-mask regulations have been enacted. Carrie Lam has learned nothing, and she simply is unable to understand the effects that her actions will have. She clearly does not understand the thinking or motivations of other people.

We hope the law can create a deterrent effect.

Carrie Lam, cited in SCMP reporting on Lam’s press conference
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3031515/hong-kong-leader-carrie-lam-announce-introduction-anti-mask

We think the law will not have just the opposite effect and predict that there will be more protests with people continuing to wear masks. Hong Kong is becoming more and more a police state. People with money in Hong Kong markets and businesses would be well-advised to move their investments elsewhere.


There are reports today from various sources saying that the Hong Kong legislature will pass regulations banning people from wearing masks at protests.

Of course, the Hong Kong police are behind this repressive and ill-advised scheme. They’ve completely lost their minds.

It is common in Asia for people to wear masks when they have colds or for other reasons. The new regulations will allow the police to make people remove their masks whenever an officer asks them to and completely bans wearing masks at large gatherings. Will the police stop thousands and thousands of ordinary Hong Kong people to make them remove their masks? Will they arrest thousands and thousands of people even at completely peaceful demonstrations?

Of course, the Hong Kong people will have their say about the matter.

Note the strobe lights on the police helmets, used to try to prevent video of what the police are doing.

This is a great idea!

As we’ve said here before, the Hong Kong government has no idea how to handle the protests. They want to hold “dialogs,” but they won’t listen to or consider the pro-democracy demonstrators’ demands, so the dialogs are useless. The police only know how to ratchet up the violence to higher and higher levels, even to the point of actually shooting demonstrators, trying to intimidate them into silence. It isn’t working, and just makes the demonstrators more and more angry.

The Hong Kong government, and by extension the CCP, has to realize the until they are actually willing to negotiate in good faith (not their usual “say one thing and do another” negotiating tactics, i.e. lying to get what they want), the protests won’t end. The police force has to be brought under control, police brutality must be independently and fairly investigated, and officers perpetrating acts of brutality must be arrested and prosecuted. The police must follow the law, wear identification and show warrant cards as required by law, and they must behave professionally and use the minimum force required to discharge their duties. If those things are not done, the protests will go on, unless thousands or tens of thousands of Hong Kongers are murdered in the streets. Carrie Lam, is that what you want?

A Day of Mourning

Yesterday, of course, was the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In Beijing, the CCP held a huge military parade, complete with goose-stepping soldiers and military hardware, to celebrate its “achievements,” as totalitarian states often do.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy demonstrators held peaceful marches and protests throughout Hong Kong, that later (as everyone knew would happen) turned violent. For the first time since the demonstrations started around four months ago, the Hong Kong police shot a protester with a potentially lethal bullet (not a beanbag round or rubber bullet). The victim of the shooting was just 18 years old, still a high school student.

The failures of the CCP, the Hong Kong government, and the Hong Kong police in handling this entire series of events, starting with the introduction of the extradition bill several months ago up until today with the potentially fatal shooting of a young high school student, cannot be overstated. They are arrogant, ignorant, stupid, lack creativity, and refuse to admit mistakes or take responsibility. On a day that anyone with any sense knew was going to tense and probably violent, Carrie Lam jetted off to Beijing to take part in the 70th anniversary celebrations there – just further cementing in everyone’s minds that she is totally a puppet of Xi Jinping and highlighting how uncaring and completely out of touch with the situation she is. Over and over again – including today after the shooting of the young student – the Hong Kong police have refused to ever admit mistakes or to any brutality whatsoever. Over and over again, their mistakes and brutality have been documented on video and by eyewitness accounts. But when confronted with this clear evidence, they shamelessly deny any wrongdoing and shamelessly lie in front of the journalists’ cameras for the entire world to see. The CCP and Hong Kong government have no answers, other than to ratchet up the violence day after day, trying to intimidate the population of Hong Kong into subservience to the CCP’s oppressive, totalitarian regime. It isn’t working.

The founding of the fascist CCP regime responsible for more deaths than any other in the history of the human race is nothing to celebrate. But the oppression and violence of the CCP isn’t just a matter of history (as they want you to believe), it is constant and pervasive, happening today in the South China Sea, where China bullies its neighbors over rights to resources and expands its military presence; in Tibet where the unique Tibetan culture is being demolished; in Xinjiang province, where the Uyghur people are being forced into concentration camps for re-education and worse; in Hong Kong, where brave freedom fighters are facing down the might of the CCP; and in mainland China, where most people do their best to stay out of the CCP’s way so they don’t get “invited to tea” with the police.

No, the anniversary of the subjugation of China by the Chinese Communist Party is a day of mourning for the world. Once again, the Chinese people deserve a much better government than the one they unfortunately have.

More Unbelievable Hong Kong Police Brutality

This kind of thing is becoming pretty much an every day occurrence, sadly.

Agnes Chow Ting, one of the leaders of Hong Kong’s Demosisto, a pro-democracy organization founded by students, including Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and others, posted this on Twitter today (in Japanese).

The video shows someone having a discussion with Hong Kong police officers. The discussion appears somewhat heated, but peaceful. The person is not violent in any way, but suddenly one of the officers sprays him directly in the face with pepper spray.

What isn’t clear in the video, but is said in Ages Chow’s post, is that the person that was sprayed is Eddie Chu, a lawmaker in Hong Kong!

Translated (by Google):

While Hong Kong legislator Eddie Chu was discussing police power abuse with police, another police officer put pepper spray on his face. Violent response to peaceful discussions. This is the Hong Kong police.

Agnes Chow – automatic translation by Google

Imagine the outrage if the police anywhere in the U.S. pepper-sprayed a lawmaker (state or U.S. representative or senator) without provocation. The police officer would be almost certainly fired and probably prosecuted. The police in Hong Kong are out of control. An independent investigation of the Hong Kong police is absolutely required.

Carrie Lam’s Political Theater

Today Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, held the first of her “dialogues” with about 150 citizens/residents of Hong Kong. These dialogues will accomplish little or nothing, as the Hong Kong government has already ruled out any concessions to the pro-democracy demonstrators remaining demands, especially their demand to an independent investigation into the actions of the Hong Kong police. Recent events have shown that an independent investigation by someone with powers of prosecution is desperately needed. Despite clearly documented evidence of police misconduct and brutality, the Hong Kong government and police ridiculously deny that there are any problems in their policing policies or use of force.

Police tactics were a common theme at Thursday’s dialogue. Many speakers demanded tougher action against what they believe to be police abuses of power, such as excessive violence against antigovernment protesters and perceived leniency toward pro-Beijing groups who have attacked demonstrators. 

Wall Street Journal article
https://www.wsj.com/articles/hong-kong-leader-pledges-to-listen-at-televised-citizen-forum-11569523905?mod=e2twcrt

But of course, despite many people speaking directly to her about the problem with the Hong Kong police, and thus proving that the “dialogue” is a sham, Carrie Lam refused to even consider the idea:

Mrs. Lam stuck to her view that an ongoing investigation into police actions by Hong Kong’s independent police complaints council is sufficient. Critics have objected to its lead role, as the body doesn’t have investigative power, can’t summon witnesses and comprises many pro-government figures.

Wall Street Journal

The Independent Police Complaints Council is not independent, and it has no power to prosecute, so what is the point of its “investigation?” There is none. Carrie Lam is just trying to buy time with these so-called “dialogues,” hoping the protests will die out on their own. We think she is mistaken.

The people of freedom-loving countries around the world are more and more fed up with the CCP’s totalitarianism, lack of respect for the natural rights of all people, bullying, and brutality. Demonstrations will be held in cities throughout the world to reject totalitarianism and stand with Hong Kong. Please attend one if you can!

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