Updated: Jul 31
Welcoming Renewed Congressional Efforts to Scrutinize Hong Kong Government Outposts in the U.S.
15 February 2023 – Today, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) reintroduced the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) Certification Act. Representatives Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) will reintroduce companion legislation. In response, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK) and the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) issue the following joint statement.
“We welcome the renewed bipartisan, bicameral attention to the urgent need to curtail the influence of the HKETOs. At present, these offices serve as official representatives of the Hong Kong government. Members of their staff receive special privileges akin to diplomats. The case for their continued existence on American soil is highly questionable given that Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law was itself already revoked almost three years ago, ahead of the draconian National Security Law (NSL) coming into effect. Since then, it’s reasonable to assume that major actions taken by Hong Kong authorities are directed by Beijing. Agents working at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s behest shouldn’t be able to preserve their de facto immunities — typically reserved for members of the diplomatic corps and their affiliates — without any scrutiny, considering the premise of that initial arrangement no longer holds.”
“Our two groups have long sounded the alarm on the pernicious influence of the HKETOs, which have three American outposts in Washington, New York, and San Francisco. Over the past year, HKDC has studied the Hong Kong government’s extensive operations in the U.S. and joined other community groups — led by Washingtonians Supporting Hong Kong (DC4HK) — to campaign against several HKETO-sponsored events organized by publicly-funded educational entities in Washington, such as the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art. Likewise, CFHK called for the closure of the HKETOs in its seminal report, A Policy Roadmap to Support the People of Hong Kong, and campaigned against the HKETO-sponsored Hong Kong Ballet event in New York in January 2023.”
“The newly reintroduced bill puts in place a process whereby the president is required to decide within 30 days, and annually thereafter, to Congress whether the HKETOs merit continued special treatment under U.S. law. Should the president decertify them, the HKETOs will be required to terminate operations within six months. The bill also grants Congress oversight to object to any presidential extension of these immunities. Overall, HKDC and CFHK are pleased that American policymakers aren’t forgetting the plight of Hong Kong. Indeed, tackling the influence of the CCP around the globe necessitates addressing deteriorating conditions in the territory. No U.S. strategy to out-compete China can ignore a prime example of an international treaty violated and civil liberties curtailed overnight. Our two groups welcome the potential closure of the HKETOs. We hope that this is one of many lines in the effort of the U.S. government to sustain its longstanding support for Hong Kongers.”
For Immediate Release
Huen Lam, HKDC | email@example.com | (202) 813-9930
Olivia Enos, CFHK| firstname.lastname@example.org | (202) 253-0723
Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and Hong Kongers in the United States
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation is an international human rights NGO which presses for political and economic consequences for China’s failure to keep its promise to respect Hong Kong’s freedoms which were enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The CFHK Foundation campaign to protect Hong Kong’s freedoms; supports the rule of law, freedom of expression, and the release of political prisoners. Hong Kong’s fate is linked to the preservation of freedom, democracy, and international law in the region and around the world.