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U.S. Congress hosts the first-ever Hong Kong Symposium looking at U.S.-China relations

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

18 October 2023 – Yesterday, the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation (CFHK Foundation) and the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) co-hosted the first-ever Hong Kong Symposium in the U.S. Congress.

In a packed room, congressional staffers, government officials, civil society, media and activists heard from China experts on how to effectively counter the threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and safeguard freedom in Hong Kong and around the world.

Key speakers included Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), Chair of the CECC and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Co-Chair of the CECC and Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA-02), Commissioner of the CECC and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission; and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL-08), Ranking Member on the Select Committee of the Strategic Competition Between the United States and Chinese Communist Party (Select Committee on the CCP). Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08), Chairman of the Select Committee on the CCP, sent video remarks.

A short film featuring six of the eight exiled Hongkongers who have HK$1 million bounties for their arrests was also shown. They affirmed their determination to keep on fighting for Hong Kong and to stand against the CCP.

CFHK Foundation Chairman Ambassador James Cunningham moderated a panel focused on CCP interference in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations while in another panel discussion titled, ‘Countering China’s Economic Coercion’, Mary Kissel, former senior advisor to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said, “Hong Kong is not safe, it really is not safe. None of the disclosures that are listed for doing business in Hong Kong are worth their paper. It is not a partisan issue, it is basic due diligence.”

Josh Rogin, Columnist at The Washington Post, moderated a panel, titled, ‘Human Rights in American Strategies’, which featured Anna Kwok, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council and China human rights expert Sophie Richardson. They discussed what policies Congress and the U.S. government should enact to help Hongkongers who wish to seek refuge in the U.S. and to hold the Hong Kong authorities to account for their ongoing human rights violations.

Congressman Chris Smith said, “Today, those who remain in Hong Kong and speak out are violently censored by their own government.”

Senator Jeff Merkley said, “The China Commission has not and will not let transnational repression go unchallenged. I believe in 2019, and I believe now, that as a nation of freedom and democracy that the U.S. has a responsibility to stand up for those who have the same ideals. Companies and boards often say that as long as no one says anything, they will do what they need to do to maximise their profits. That is why your voices are so important.”

Congressman Jim McGovern said, “The draconian reality of transnational repression was brought home in July when Hong Kong placed bounties on eight exiled Hongkongers. I am supporting a bill that would criminalise transnational repression in the United States. We must continue to highlight those in Hong Kong who are criminalised for exercising their rights.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said, “One thing must be clear: We stand committed to the Hong Kong people in their pursuit of freedom and autonomy that was once promised to them by the Chinese Communist Party but not delivered. We cannot sit idly by while these injustices continue.”

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