By US Congressman Ted Yoho
This week Congress voted to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in an unprecedented show of solidarity with the people of Hong Kong. The Act was necessary, and I was pleased to co-sponsor it, because fundamental human rights continue to be taken away from Hong Kongers by the authoritarian overreach of the Chinese Communist Party Complex (CCPC), comprised of Xi Jinping, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party and leadership within the People’s Liberation Army.
As protests in Hong Kong continue into their 6th month, Xi Jinping still refuses to take responsibility for this unrest. In September, I had the honour of meeting with a few of the courageous leaders of Hong Kong Student Unions. They were advocating for peace, liberty and freedom – they were not separatists or under foreign influence. Their protests were sparked by the introduction of the infamous extradition bill by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but now they have five-demands – most of which have not been addressed.
Had Xi and the entire CCPC honoured the 1997 international agreement between Great Britain and China, which allows Hong Kong to remain a self-ruling, semi-autonomous province, none of this would have occurred. But China’s breach of their contract has consequences. The narrative that the CCPC has created for itself is that China should not be trusted and that the party will go to great lengths to dismantle free societies in their backyard. The survival of democracy and freedom exposes the failures of communism.
The CCPC’s lack of acknowledgement of their failures, whether from deliberate denial or complete ignorance, was demonstrated by Mr. Han Zheng, China’s Vice-Premier, who said he believes “anti-government protests are damaging the ‘one country, two systems’ formula”, and are caused by a separatist movement and foreign influence.
While sitting next to Chief Executive Lam, he continued, “We firmly support the Special Administrative Region government to adopt more pro-active and more effective measures to solve the social problems.” The “proactive and more effective measures” referred to by Mr. Han are intimidation, brutality, imprisonment and death. As the international community is well aware, Beijing’s standard procedure for dealing with unrest is well documented.
In the end, the CCPC will leave no stone unturned in their quest to destroy democracy. The party will spare no one in their fight to protect communist ideals and power. Chief Executive Lam will be Beijing’s sacrificial lamb and removed for two reasons. First, the CCPC must save face and have a scapegoat. Second, Xi Jinping and the CCPC must maintain their authority and not show weakness.
The CCPC, along with Hong Kong’s police force, will continue their offensive against protestors who want nothing more than peace and liberty. It has become clear that Xi Jinping is willing to risk the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, simply to prove a point. The consequences of the CCPC’s poor judgement and attack on liberty and freedom have surpassed mere unrest. The Human Rights and Democracy Act will strengthen US monitoring of CCPC interference in Hong Kong, and could lead to the US imposing sanctions on the officials responsible for human rights violations.
Businesses are starting to respond to the situation too. Since July 2019, there have been over US$622 billion in stock market losses in Hong Kong and a mass exodus of capital. Further, as of October 2019, Hong Kong’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) market has plummeted nearly 43%.
Established businesses are beginning to wake up to the heavy-handed practices of Beijing and are fleeing to countries where the rule of law is guaranteed. These countries, like Singapore, honour the rule of law. According to an estimate by Goldman Sachs, Hong Kong may have already lost as much as US$4 billion in deposits to Singapore.
Similarly, new businesses are cautiously watching before deciding to invest in Hong Kong, which for decades has been known as a trusted international financial hub. Investments will continue to leave Hong Kong because the business community has come to understand that the CCPC cannot co-exist with any entity or person who is not willing to accept the communist party as the supreme power. Unless the CCPC changes their course, this exodus will permanently damage Hong Kong, a region where China has heavily invested in their own business interests.
I am honoured to stand with the Hong Kong protestors and their important cause. These brave individuals show all of us who are fortunate to live in free societies how fleeting freedom can be. It’s a constant reminder that freedom must never be taken for granted and its protection will not come easily.
Rep. Ted S. Yoho (R-FL) Lead Republican for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation. He was one of the initial co-sponsors of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.