OPEN LETTER: Hold China Accountable for Crushing Dissent in Hong Kong
Women’s Rights in China January 01, 2020
To: President Trump, the United States and the United Nations:
A peaceful and prosperous Hong Kong poses an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative that Chinese people cannot thrive under freedom and democracy. The CCP has circumvented the rule of law by issuing a National Security Law that would crush all dissent in Hong Kong.
We call upon President Trump, the United States Congress, the United Nations, and people of conscience all over the world, to set aside all political differences and continue to take bold action to hold China accountable for its hubris. We commend President Trump’s promise to end Hong Kong’s trading privileges, as well as the joint statement issued by the governments of the United States, UK, Australia and Canada, condemning China’s violation of the “one country, two systems” policy promised in the 1997 transfer of power from British to Chinese rule.
When Britain agreed to return Hong Kong to China in 1997, China agreed to afford Hong Kong protection of a “high degree of autonomy” in government, law and finances for 50 years, until 2047. Abrogating this autonomy, the National People’s Congress (NPC) has passed a law bypassing Hong Kong’s own Legislative Council. The CCP-owned China Daily stated that the new law is intended to “prevent, frustrate and punish any secessionist or subversive activity, the organizing of terrorist acts, and other acts that seriously threaten national security as well as activities of foreign and external interference in Hong Kong.” Indeed, according to a top CCP official quoted in China Daily, its intent is merely “to protect Hong Kong residents from the criminal acts of a small number of extremists.”
In practice, this law can be used to crush free speech, criticism, protest and dissent. Countless Chinese dissidents have been jailed on groundless charges of “subversion,” including Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who in 2009 was sentenced to 11 years in prison for calling for democratic reform. He died while serving his sentence. Hong Kong activists rightly fear that this new law will render dissent, or even political discourse, a criminal offense. It represents the end of “one country, two systems.”
Equally worrisome, the new law implies that security forces from mainland China, such as the Ministry of State Security, will be set up in Hong Kong. According to a second article in China Daily, “The NPC draft decision has also stipulated that organs of national security of the central government will set up agencies in Hong Kong, whose operation will be according to law.” The people of Hong Kong mounted massive protests to prevent extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. Now, the dreaded national security apparatus of mainland China will take residence Hong Kong.
We stand with the people of Hong Kong, who have suffered so terribly in their struggle to maintain the autonomy promised them. We commend the actions the U.S. government has already taken to disengage economically from the PRC, including the May 27 declaration that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous, and President Trump’s announcement that the US will end Hong Kong’s trade privileges. These tragic actions should be blamed on the CCP, whose shameless maneuvers and raw power grabs have brought us to this point.
The global community needs to protect international security and economic interests. On the table should be various economic and financial sanctions, such as those recommended by the Committee on the Present Danger: China. In addition, we need to hold individuals accountable through the Global Magnitsky Act.
We also need to increase our commitment to the people of Taiwan, especially in light of the ominous statement by a top Chinese general that China will attack Taiwan to stop independence. Hong Kong now, Taiwan next?
Taiwan is opening its arms to Hong Kong citizens who want to resettle in the face of the tightening grip of the CCP. We call upon the United States and governments the world over to do the same.
While our two organizations advocate for women’s rights, we note that half of the people of Hong Kong are female. Our organizations will, as always, do our part to assist women and children persecuted by China’s authoritarian regime.
Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers
Jing Zhang, Founder and President, Women’s Rights in China