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The CFHK Foundation Doubles Down on Call for U.S. Sanctions, Despite Hong Kong Government's Fury

This blog is authored by Frances Hui, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation's Policy and Advocacy Coordinator in Washington D.C.


Last Sunday, the Hong Kong government put out a statement criticising the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation for initiating several “anti-China” campaigns, including calling for U.S. sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong government officials, in particular those taking part in the promulgation of the new Article 23 legislation. The government accused the CFHK Foundation of tarnishing the draft law, potentially constituting the offence of “colluding with foreign forces under the National Security Law.” Soon after that, the entire media society in Hong Kong, dominated by pro-Beijing voices, echoed the sentiments with extensive coverage.





This comes after a statement released by the CFHK Foundation last Friday, calling on the U.S. administration to hold Hong Kong authorities accountable for their blatant attempt to destroy the city’s rule of law and freedoms. The statement provided a list of officials, judges, and prosecutors who are responsible for the ongoing political persecution of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, urging for sanctions to be imposed under existing sanction authorities. We at the CFHK Foundation also urged the U.S. to revoke the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices’ privileges and immunities.  


The Hong Kong government was kind enough to give me a shoutout as a “core member” of the group only to justify the need to target absconders charged with offences endangering national security in the new bill. The proposed bill provides the government’s authority to revoke an absconder’s passport and prohibits any financial or residential support to an absconder. Anyone who violates the warrants can be liable for up to seven years of imprisonment. 


The Hong Kong government might want to threaten the cancellation of my passport. But they should note that I have long been granted asylum in the United States over two years ago, allowing the U.S. to advocate for my case. If they wish to revoke my HKSAR passport or freeze my Hong Kong account, they are welcome to do so.


The government also ludicrously claims that the security bill adheres to the principle of “respecting and safeguarding human rights" stipulated in the Basic Law and two international human rights covenants—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. 


However, since the implementation of the National Security Law, the international community has criticised the Hong Kong and Beijing governments for doing the exact opposite. United Nations human rights experts and member countries have raised concerns with the Chinese government for the crackdown in Hong Kong and urged Hong Kong to repeal the National Security Law. Despite wide global opposition, the Hong Kong authorities continue to defend their actions, insisting that the implementation of the National Security Law adheres to its international obligations and fully safeguards the civil rights of the people of Hong Kong. 


Yet, in the last five years since the law came into effect, it has crushed the once-vibrant civil society in Hong Kong. Any form of protest or dissent is prohibited, and people are frightened to discuss any political issue. More than 1,700 people have been imprisoned simply for fighting for their rights and defending the city from totalitarianism. Although the government claims that the new security bill under Article 23 is in line with its human rights commitment, I believe the international community will make its own judgement when the law is used to further strangle civil liberties and information flow in the city.


In the statement, the government accused the CFHK Foundation of intimidating its officials, while conveniently neglecting how they have been constantly intimidating overseas Hong Kongers. Since I came to prominence as an activist, I have endured harassment and death threats both online and physically. In 2019, as confirmed by the Department of Justice’s investigation, the CCP dispatched agents to spy on my activities as I organised solidarity rallies around the world to support the movement back in Hong Kong. Last December, the Hong Kong government issued a bounty of one million Hong Kong dollars for my arrest. It’s laughable that the Hong Kong authorities are now accusing us of intimidating them as though they are the victims targeted by the international community while they continue to surveil and harass dissidents all around the world. 


Furthermore, the CFHK Foundation has maintained operations in London and Washington, D.C. since it was founded in 2021 and has never positioned itself as a Hong Konger organisation. Labelling the group as colluding with foreign forces is akin to saying that any organisation regulated by a foreign government is in collusion with external forces. The Hong Kong government can splash labels on us as “anti-China” or “criminals,” but it will not prevent us from continuing our advocacy for Hong Kong's freedom, striving for the release of political prisoners, and opposing all human rights violations committed by the CCP. 


I echo the CFHK Foundation’s call for sanctions on individuals involved in work related to the National Security Law and Article 23 legislation, including 49 Hong Kong officials, judges, and prosecutors listed on the bipartisan Hong Kong Sanction Act. I urge the U.S. government to take concrete action in response to the formal passage of Article 23, holding individuals accountable for violating human rights and undermining the rule of law in Hong Kong, and to revoke the diplomatic immunities granted to the three Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in the U.S.


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