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U.S. Policy Response to the Deterioration of Freedom in Hong Kong

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House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party

Roundtable on "The Future of Hong Kong: U.S. Policy Going Forward"

May 23, 2024 -- 2:30 p.m.

HC-5, U.S. Capitol Building

Written testimony submitted by

Frances Hui

Policy and Advocacy Coordinator,

Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation

Chairman Moolenaar, Ranking Member Krishnamoorthi, and distinguished members of the Select Committee, thank you for leading this important discussion and for the opportunity to brief you on this topic.

I was born in Hong Kong in 1999 and have been involved in social movements in Hong Kong since the age of 13. I left Hong Kong after the National Security Law was enacted in 2020 and, a year later, became the first Hong Kong activist to receive political asylum in the U.S. Last December, the Hong Kong authorities announced a million Hong Kong dollar bounty for my arrest.

In this written testimony, I will first summarize the current political landscape and then provide several policy recommendations to the U.S. Congress in response to the crackdown in Hong Kong.


Freedom in Hong Kong has deteriorated drastically in the past five years under the CCP’s rule. As we speak, there are more than 1800 political prisoners in Hong Kong; among them, the oldest is the 76-year-old Jimmy Lai and the “Hong Kong 47,” some of whom are expecting verdicts to come at the end of May. Earlier this year, the Hong Kong government, at the behest of Beijing, passed Article 23 legislation, which some of us called the “NSL 2.0,” that expands the definition of and extends sentences for national security crimes, putting everyone around the world in danger for criticizing the Chinese and Hong Kong government and engaging in any activities that they deem threatening to China’s national security.

This move has been strongly criticized by businesses, lawyers, journalists, politicians, human rights advocates, as well as democratic allies around the world. Yet, the U.S. State Department has not offered more than “deep concerns” over the development. Imposing anonymous visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials is not enough.

Therefore, to facilitate the discussion today, I would like to offer several possibilities for members of this Select Committee here as we navigate through various U.S. strategies on Hong Kong and China.

1.Push the administration to impose sanctions on Hong Kong officials and members of the judiciary who are responsible for implementing, enforcing, prosecuting, and ruling on the National Security Law.

Since 2021, no sanctions have been imposed despite “intensifying repression” and the severe deterioration of autonomy in Hong Kong. Although the US has announced some visa restrictions, the impact is much less than full US sanctions, and it sends a message that the US is stepping down from its previous strategy of holding these individuals accountable.

We ask members of this Committee to support and pass H.R. 6153, the sanctions legislation introduced in both the House and Senate last year, which listed a cross-section of 49 individuals who have manipulated Hong Kong’s legal system to crack down on pro-democracy protesters and advocates. It will require a determination by the State Department whether these individuals should be sanctioned under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

In the past few months, we have worked with other groups in the Hong Kong coalition to submit a list to the State Department which corresponds to the list in the Sanctions Act. Many of them are successors of officials who are already under US sanctions due to human rights violations and others whom we know are willingly participating in oppression. All the judges and prosecutors have handled both National Security Law and non-National Security Law political cases, including the trials of Jimmy Lai, the “Hong Kong 47,” and the organizers of the Tiananmen Vigils. They have manipulated the evidence and the law in pursuit of conviction and longer sentences. We believe that imposing sanctions on these people is not only a punitive measure but one that can have a deterrent effect when combined with effective diplomacy.

2.Pass H.R. 1103, the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (HKETO) Certification Act, which would revoke the privileges and immunities granted to HKETOs and force them to be shut down unless autonomy is restored to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government has three HKETO locations in the US, including here in Washington DC. What looks like just another townhouse in the center of Dupont Circle is an outpost of the Hong Kong government to spy on overseas activists and influence U.S. policy on China. Within the past month, German and British authorities have arrested four people who have been working for the local HKETOs, on charges of espionage and surveillance.

Since Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, the CCP should not have two diplomatic representations in the US. The HKETO Certification Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House with bipartisan support and passed both foreign affairs committees last year. HFAC passed it 39-0 almost six months ago. We haven’t received an explanation about why the bill hasn’t been brought to the floor. We want to ask your committee to weigh in with your Leadership to ensure there is a vote as soon as possible.

3.Co-sponsor H.R. 8125 to rename the street in front of the HKETO in DC as “Jimmy Lai Way” to remind Americans and the CCP officials every day of Hong Kong’s ongoing crackdown on advocates of freedom of expression and democracy.

4.Co-sponsor H.R.3654, the Transnational Repression Policy Act to develop a legal foundation to reduce and tackle transnational repression in the US and beyond.

The lack of codification of transnational repression has hindered our ability to tackle transnational repression in the United States, causing delays in actions and a lack of resources. The legislation requires the President to impose property- and visa-blocking sanctions on certain foreign individuals and entities that directly engage in transnational repression. It will require the State Department to develop a strategy to raise international awareness of transnational repression and provide training to relevant federal employees and law enforcement partners. The bill will direct the intelligence community to prioritize resources in identifying perpetrators in the U.S.

5.Collaborate with democratic allies to get them up to speed in countering transnational repression and streamline communications with them to track perpetrators as they travel globally.


I will be open as a resource for this committee, and I am happy to discuss these policy suggestions in depth. In short, with the two rounds of bounties issued on overseas activists last year, the ongoing crackdown on Hongkongers, the intensifying of transnational repression, and the passage of the Article 23 legislation, the response by both the Administration and Congress needs to be much stronger. We have to do more, and we need your help.

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