HONG KONG AUTONOMY ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 122
(Senate - July 02, 2020)

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[Pages S4179-S4180]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         HONG KONG AUTONOMY ACT

  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I am here on the Senate floor with my 
colleague from Maryland. I am here this morning, in part, to condemn 
the Chinese Communist Party's actions, their efforts to swallow Hong 
Kong into the mainland and silence the dissent of the people of Hong 
Kong, but I am also here to do something about that.
  For decades, Hong Kong has been one of the most successful, thriving 
societies on the planet. An indispensable part of their success has 
been their freedom. Hong Kong has enjoyed a vibrant free press, free 
speech, freedom to worship. They have had an independent judiciary and 
a partially democratic electoral representative system of government 
for a long time now.
  Hong Kong is one of the freest places in Asia and, because of these 
freedoms and the Hong Kong people's natural entrepreneurial spirit, 
Hong Kong is just one of the most successful and vibrant cities there 
has ever been.
  Yet for years--maybe because of this--the Chinese Communist Party has 
pursued a systematic campaign to snuff out these basic freedoms in Hong 
Kong and bring the Hongkongers who live there into line. The intensity 
of the Chinese Communist Party's aggression appears to be growing by 
the day.
  Their campaign shouldn't be very surprising. Just look at the recent 
actions: the genocidal action toward the Uighurs in Xinjiang or the 
aggressive action toward neighboring countries in the South China Sea--
or toward the entire world, since the COVID-19 virus was first detected 
in Wuhan and the Chinese Government lied to us about its nature.
  Fundamental principles, such as freedom and transparency, the just 
rule of law--these ideas are entirely antithetical to the core of the 
Chinese Communist Party's mission. I think that, several years from 
now, we are going to look back on July 1 of 2020 as a milestone in the 
Chinese Communist Party's aggression and hostility toward Hong Kong.
  Yesterday was the first day that the Chinese Communist Party's new 
so-called national security law went into effect. News reports 
described the law as ``tailor-made to bring Hong Kong's massive pro-
democracy movement to heel.''
  This picture was taken within the last 48 hours--thousands and 
thousands of people of Hong Kong taking to the streets to simply demand 
their freedoms--peacefully--to protest, to insist that they continue to 
have the freedoms that help make their society such a great society.
  Tragically, 300 of these people were arrested last night simply 
because they were protesting the Chinese Communist Party. Some of the 
arrests were made because Hongkongers possessed items that called for 
Hong Kong's independence. That is right--people arrested simply for 
holding a sign, arrested for holding a flag. Among them was a 15-year-
old girl--a 15-year-old girl. Her crime: She held a flag that said 
``Hong Kong independence.'' Another was a 19-year-old young man. His 
crime was that he had a pro-democracy sticker on his phone. Imagine--
imagine the nerve of wanting to have self-determination and expressing 
that with a sticker on your phone. So he was arrested.
  His parents attempted to visit their son in jail and bring him 
dinner, and the police refused their visit. It is not at all clear if 
this young man will be able to get out even on bail.
  So the Chinese Communist Party has very rapidly started enforcing 
this new law, and I think it is because they realize what is at stake. 
They know that the people of Hong Kong fervently believe in the 
importance of an open and free society. They believe in and they want 
the ability to practice liberal values, and they want a system of 
transparent, accountable government, one that is elected by and 
responsive to the people.
  See, the vision of the people of Hong Kong for their own city, for 
their society, is anathema to the Chinese Communist Party because the 
Chinese Communist Party's deepest fear is that mainland Chinese 
citizens will demand the freedoms that Hongkongers enjoy, and that 
quest for freedom on the mainland would pose an unacceptable risk to 
the authoritarian control of the Communist regime.
  So the Chinese Communist Party is cracking down. We have been 
witnessing it just in recent hours. This new so-called national 
security law was unilaterally imposed on the people of Hong Kong 
without any input from the people of Hong Kong, and that is in direct 
contravention to Chinese commitments to Hong Kong and the international 
community. The law was also purposefully written in a very vague and 
ambiguous manner, designed to essentially criminalize any behavior or 
speech on the part of a resident of Hong Kong that the Chinese 
Communist Party does not approve of.
  Now, the law may be ambiguous, but the message behind it is not. If a 
19-year-old can now be imprisoned for having a sticker on his phone or 
a 15-year-old girl can be imprisoned for having a flag, then no one is 
safe, and that is the message that Beijing wants to send to the people 
of Hong Kong: We can arrest you. We can imprison you if you misbehave. 
So think twice about what you say, where you go, with whom you meet, 
what you read, what you write. Maybe even think twice about what you 
think.

  This law, sadly, looks like it means the end of Hong Kong's autonomy 
and the freedoms which underpin its social and economic vibrancy. And 
we are seeing the effects: As I said, hundreds of arrests that occurred 
just yesterday as tens of thousands of courageous Hongkongers--here we 
see some of them--poured into the streets to shout and chant and 
demonstrate peacefully, to tell the Chinese Communist Party that they 
are not going to back down.
  We have also seen Hongkongers who have been forced to scrub their 
social media history, booksellers who were intending to remove books 
from their shelves, Hong Kong pro-democracy political figures saying 
that they have to lessen their activism and rethink their strategy.
  How can you blame them? How can you blame them? They could face years 
in prison if the Hong Kong authorities, at the bidding of the people in 
Beijing, choose to target them.
  I think we can fully expect independent media voices in Hong Kong to 
be shuttered and Beijing's censorship and surveillance apparatus to 
flourish in the coming months and years.
  The fact is, Hong Kong's vibrancy is being throttled by the Chinese 
Communist Party.
  So I am on the Senate floor today to request passage of a piece of 
legislation that responds to this. I am pleased to report it has 
already received unanimous support from both Chambers of Congress. I 
introduced this legislation with my colleague Senator Van Hollen of 
Maryland to create real penalties on those responsible for this 
campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to end Hong Kong's free way of 
life.
  It is called the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and the bill would impose 
mandatory sanctions on anyone involved in taking action to attack the 
basic freedoms that were promised to the people of Hong Kong.
  Critically, our legislation also takes another step. It penalizes 
banks that choose to finance the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy, banks 
that would put marginal profits ahead of the basic human rights of the 
people of Hong Kong.
  I am really pleased that we are here this morning. I think we are on 
the verge of sending this legislation to the President's desk because 
America needs to take meaningful steps like this to push back on the 
Chinese Communist Party.
  We should remember that this aggression toward Hong Kong is not 
limited to Hong Kong. The Chinese Communist Party is intent to spread 
its influence and power worldwide, and in the process, it is meant to 
simultaneously undermine and challenge free and open societies. I 
should point out that the spread of the Chinese Communist Party 
influence around the world poses a very real threat to us, to 
Americans, to our national and economic interests.
  That is part of why the Hong Kong Autonomy Act is so important. It is 
not only an effort to shield freedom-loving Hongkongers from this 
continuing escalation of aggression by the

[[Page S4180]]

Chinese Communists, but the bill is a larger signal to China. It is a 
message that the United States and the free world are no longer willing 
to look past some of the worst behavior that has been occurring. It is 
a message that our patience has run out.
  China is being warned to expect stiff resistance--stiff resistance to 
stealing American intellectual property, to committing genocide against 
religious minorities like the Uighurs, to militarizing artificial 
islands and infringing on other nations' sovereign waters, and 
trampling on the basic freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
  I could go on, but suffice it to say that this is occurring in the 
context of a great battle--the great battle about what model the world 
is going to pursue. Will the citizens of the United States and other 
democratic nations around the world continue to foster the liberal 
democratic model that spread around the world after World War II, with 
open societies, the just rule of law, greater economic freedom 
underpinned by respect for private property, basic human rights like 
the freedom of speech and the freedom of a free press and the freedom 
to worship?
  All of the prosperity and the elevation of human dignity that comes 
from human freedom and democratic values from our model--that is the 
model that is up against the dark shadows of the authoritarian 
governments that are constantly pushing to systematically erode, 
corrode, and warp the values and freedoms that we cherish. Through this 
bill, the U.S. Senate makes clear which side we are on.

  At this point, I would like to yield to the Senator from Maryland.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.
  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, I want to salute my friend and 
colleague, the Senator from Pennsylvania, Mr. Toomey, for his remarks 
and for his leadership on this very vital issue of standing up for the 
rights and freedom of people in Hong Kong and, as he said, sending a 
signal to others around the world who would seek to stamp out human 
rights and political freedom.
  When Senator Toomey and I saw that the Chinese Communist Party was 
taking its more recent steps to crack down on freedom in Hong Kong, we 
introduced the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. That act just passed the U.S. 
Senate unanimously last week and was sent to the House of 
Representatives.
  This is a very fast turnaround from either of the Chambers in the 
U.S. Congress. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and her Republican 
partner and all the Democrats and Republicans in the House of 
Representatives for coming together so quickly on this legislation.
  The legislation before us made a technical fix to the bill that 
Senator Toomey and I introduced in which this Senate passed out last 
week a technical fix to comply with the constitutional requirements as 
to where a bill that might generate revenue begins.
  With that technical fix, Speaker Pelosi and the Republican leadership 
sent it right back. Why did they send it right back so quickly? Because 
this is an urgent moment. In fact, our timing could not be more 
critical. On Tuesday, President Xi imposed a national security law on 
Hong Kong by fiat. It was only after the law was passed that Beijing 
unveiled its provisions. Even Hong Kong's Chief Executive and President 
Xi loyalist, Carrie Lam, said she hadn't been allowed to see a draft 
before the law's passage.
  As Senator Toomey indicated, this law is written broadly enough that 
it will criminalize speech and peaceful assembly. Anybody who publishes 
anti-Beijing viewpoints could be punished by life in prison. Saying 
anything seen to be undermining the ruling Communist Party's authority 
would be a violation.
  This is consistent with mainland China's approach, which has 
virtually eliminated independent journalism and severely restricted 
NGOs.
  Here are some highlights of the law that was just passed--I should 
say, imposed. It now mandates that the Hong Kong Government undertake 
``national security education'' in school, social organizations, and 
media outlets. The law mandates that anyone entering public office in 
Hong Kong swear allegiance to Beijing.
  What is more, the law applies to anyone, anywhere. It can even apply 
to offenses committed outside the region by a person who is not a 
permanent resident of the region. That means a U.S. citizen penning an 
editorial that argues for sanctions against China could technically 
fall afoul of the new law for ``inciting hatred'' against Beijing. 
Legal experts believe this is even broader than the Chinese criminal 
law applied in mainland China.
  Senator Toomey said, despite this--despite this threat, despite 
passage of a law that would punish people for up to life imprisonment 
for expressing their views, thousands of protesters took to the streets 
yesterday and staged the largest rally in Hong Kong this year. Hundreds 
of Hong Kong police officers moved in swiftly to quash dissent and 
implement the law. Police fired tear gas, pepper spray, and water 
cannons to disperse the protesters.
  The police then issued a statement that noted some protesters were 
chanting ``Hong Kong independence, the only way out.'' The statement 
said such slogans are ``suspected to be inciting or abetting others to 
commit secession'' and may violate the new law.
  The United States must stand with the people of Hong Kong. That is 
what this bill says. This bill says we stand with the people of Hong 
Kong.
  As Senator Toomey indicated, it would impose mandatory sanctions on 
individuals in firms who violate China's obligations to the people of 
Hong Kong under the joint declaration and the basic law--rights of 
freedom of speech and equality before the law, freedom of association, 
and the right from arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention, and 
imprisonment. It goes beyond that to impose mandatory sanctions on 
banks that do business with individuals who are complicit in 
undermining these freedoms and the rights of the people of Hong Kong.
  I am glad we acted quickly. As you can see, the Government of China 
is moving by the day to squash the rights and freedoms of the people of 
Hong Kong. We need to move with urgency to send a statement that we 
stand with the people of Hong Kong.
  In a moment, I am going to be joining my colleague, Senator Toomey, 
in asking for unanimous consent. Before I turn it back over to him, let 
me just say, assuming we get that--and it looks like we will--I hope 
President Trump will sign this immediately--immediately.
  As a country, Republicans and Democrats together need to send a 
strong signal that we will not stand for the actions of Beijing, 
undermining their own agreements--agreements under international law, 
which they are bound to, and we will not stand still in silence and do 
nothing while they crack down on freedom in Hong Kong.
  I yield to Senator Toomey from Pennsylvania.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, again, let me stress how grateful I am for 
the passionate, persuasive, and very effective advocacy of Senator Van 
Hollen throughout this entire effort. I am very grateful to him, as I 
am to other colleagues who helped make this happen.
  As in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to the immediate consideration of H.R. 7440, which was received 
from the House.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 7440) to impose sanctions with respect to 
     foreign persons involved in the erosion of certain 
     obligations of China with respect to Hong Kong, and for other 
     purposes.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The bill (H.R. 7440) was ordered to a third reading, was read the 
third time, and passed.

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