5 February 2024 (WASHINGTON, DC) – Frances Hui, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation today took part in a closed-door roundtable with the United States government about transnational repression by the Hong Kong authorities.
The discussion was attended by senior officials of the U.S. Department of State and individuals residing in the U.S. who were threatened in 2023 by Hong Kong authorities with HK$ 1 million bounties each, including Anna Kwok of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, Joey Siu of the National Democracy Institute, and Elmer Yuen.
Hong Kong activists shared the chilling effects of having bounties placed on their heads, and the transnational repression they face. Hui called on the U.S. government to speak up on behalf of political prisoners in Hong Kong in diplomatic engagements with Chinese counterparts, calling for the release of political prisoners, including pro-democracy newspaper owner Jimmy Lai who is currently on trial for alleged national security offenses. Hui underscored the urgency to promote freedom and human rights as a priority of its foreign policy in response to Article 23 legislation.
Hui urged the U.S. to hold bad actors accountable for human rights abuses, in particular the Hong Kong authorities, judges, and prosecutors who have abused Hong Kong’s once-independent judiciary to crack down on civil society in the city.
Shortly following the meeting, the State Department wrote via X: "Honored to meet with courageous advocates for Hong Kong’s democracy and human rights who’ve been unjustly targeted for exercising their fundamental freedoms. We call on Hong Kong authorities to immediately cease all efforts to intimidate people in Hong Kong and around the world, including those who call the U.S. home."
Frances Hui was the first known Hong Kong activist to gain asylum in the U.S. after fleeing the city following threats for her international advocacy during the 2019-2020 pro-democracy protests. She has played a key role in pushing sanctions legislation through the U.S. Congress which would require the administration to determine if 49 Hong Kong officials, judges, and prosecutors should be sanctioned under U.S. law. In January 2024, she published a wide-ranging report on the decline of religious freedom in Hong Kong.
The CFHK Foundation's Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Frances Hui told the roundtable:
"I am encouraged to see this roundtable happen and receive support from the U.S. It was the first step the administration took to hear directly from the community since the bounties were announced last year. But there is so much more to be done. We would hope to see some changes in how the administration handles its China policy. The world is counting on the U.S. to stand at the forefront in supporting human rights and democracy, and most importantly, to protect the people living under its roof who have sought refuge from authoritarianism."