September 10, 2019

Gillibrand Calls on Trump Administration to Stand With the People of Hong Kong, Send a Clear Message That The United States Supports Their Fundamental Human Rights

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, today urged President Trump to uphold fundamental human rights by taking a strong stand in calling on the Chinese government to address Hong Kong’s calls for democracy and justice. She also called on the Trump administration to review U.S. exports of crowd control tools in order to ensure they are not abused by the Chinese government to harm human rights in Hong Kong. Gillibrand’s push comes as Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom continue to be under assault by the Chinese government and Communist Party.

“The United States should stand unequivocally with our allies in Canada and the European Union in pressing the government in Beijing on these issues,” Senator Gillibrand wrote. “This is an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate leadership in a number of ways. First, as the Chinese delegation attends the United Nations General Assembly meetings, they must hear unequivocally from the U.S. as well as our allies that respect for democracy in Hong Kong is a test of China’s global standing. Second, you must ensure that your administration closely examines the U.S. exports of crowd control equipment to Hong Kong that has reportedly been used to quell protests, potentially banning such exports where they are used to commit human rights abuses.”

Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bipartisan bill that would reaffirm U.S. commitment to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Hong Kong. Specifically, this legislation would do the following:
• 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;
• 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 forced removal of individuals exercising internationally recognized rights to mainland China for detention or trial, and to freeze their U.S.-based assets and deny them entry to the United States;
• Require the President to issue a strategy to protect U.S. citizens and businesses from the implications of 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;
• 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; and
• 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.

The full text of Gillibrand’s letter may be found here and below:


September 10, 2019

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 25000

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to express serious concerns about the Chinese government’s threat to democracy and respect for human rights in Hong Kong, and to call on your administration to make clear that the United States supports the people of Hong Kong in their desire for fundamental rights. The United States should stand unequivocally with our allies in Canada and the European Union in pressing the government in Beijing on these issues.

Furthermore, as I have written with respect to the human rights abuses of the Uyghur and central Asian Muslim population in Xinjiang, China, I call on your administration to ensure that U.S. exports are not abused by the Chinese government to commit human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

As you know, the people of Hong Kong have mobilized to oppose an extradition bill that would have made them subject to prosecution on the Chinese mainland, where they justly feared an unfair process. I am pleased to see that their civic engagement forced a withdrawal of this bill, but this is not enough to provide to Hong Kong the right to a representative government that was intended under the one country two systems policy. That call for democracy – as well as a call for an independent and transparent investigation into the excessive use of police force against the demonstrators – are motivating new demonstrations. We must support these calls.

This is an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate leadership in a number of ways. First, as the Chinese delegation attends the United Nations General Assembly meetings, they must hear unequivocally from the U.S. as well as our allies that respect for democracy in Hong Kong is a test of China’s global standing. Second, you must ensure that your administration closely examines U.S. exports of crowd control equipment to Hong Kong that has reportedly been used to quell protests, potentially banning devices used to commit human rights abuses. As I had noted in my letter regarding exports of U.S. technologies used against the Muslim Chinese communities, technologically advanced devices could even be modified by an adversary, and then pose a threat to both American values and our national security.

I strongly urge you and your administration to uphold fundamental human rights by taking a strong stand in calling on the Chinese government to address Hong Kong’s calls for democracy and justice, and directing a review of American crowd control tools used to repress the Hong Kong protesters.

Sincerely,

Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator