A Hong Kong delegation led by pro-democracy advocates and legislators is visiting Washington, D.C.this week. They are calling on the United States and the international community to press the Hong Kong Government to withdraw their proposal to revise the proposed extradition law. Their request has won bi-partisan support in Congress.
On May 14, Hong Kong barrister Martin Lee and three other advocates said Hong Kong’s proposed Extradition Law will have serious consequences. Speaking at an event hosted by the National Endowment for Democracy, Lee said the consequences of the bill will stretch far beyond Hong Kong to the international community.
Martin Lee, Barrister and chairman of the United Democrats of Hong Kong said, “This bill is going to destroy Hong Kong as an international city because if the bill will pass into law, we cannot guarantee the safety of any visitor to Hong Kong.”
Due to its poor human rights record and legal system, China has no extradition agreement with nations including the United States and Canada. However, both the United States and Canada do have extradition agreements with Hong Kong.
Currently, 85,000 Americans and 300,000 Canadians are living and working in Hong Kong.
With the new proposal, however, anyone living in Hong Kong could be extradited to mainland China if Beijing suspects them of criminal activity.
“Hong Kong is no longer the safe harbor for businessmen, professionals, NGO workers, activists. No more safe,” Cheuk Yan Lee, general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said at the event.
The Hong Kong Government may force the extradition bill through within a couple of weeks, due to their July deadline, the advocates said.
This would greatly damage Hong Kong’s human rights and the rule of law, and threaten the safety of its foreign citizens.
The advocates called on the United States and the international community to put immediate pressure on the Hong Kong Government not to pass the law.
Jim McGovern (D-MA), chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China said, “Anybody pushing the extradition law needs to understand, it is a bad, bad, bad idea.”
“China’s proven that they are not going to respect people’s human rights,” said Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.). “We see them doing that in mainland China already. And to subject to the residents of Hong Kong that same type of treatment is terrifying.”
Members of Congress are very concerned about Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy. They urged the U.S. administration to act immediately and pressure the Hong Kong government to withdraw the proposed bill. At the same time, they will re-introduce the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
“There may be a chance to do a resolution in the Senate on the extradition law to condemn it. I hope we can get that done fairly quickly,” Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), co-chair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China said. “I’d also like to see us pass legislation that reflects our values and our views.”
McGovern, said they would make an appeal to the Trump administration. “[The Trump administration] ought to be raising these issues directly in these trade discussions. I mean, human rights ought to be the center piece of our trade dealings with China. And we also need to reach out to our business community, for them to raise their voices even more,” he said.
This week, the Hong Kong delegation is expected to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Council Senior Director Matt Pottinger, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss the bill.