Serious and pervasive human rights issues are taking place in Hong Kong against both residents and people with citizenship in other countries.
Take the case of Jimmy Lai, who escaped communist China to Hong Kong at the age of 12, and, although he has UK citizenship, remained to advocate for democracy. As a newspaper publisher, he now languishes in solitary confinement in a maximum security prison.
His and other instances of arbitrary arrest and detention prompted Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan to call for sanctions — and he has introduced legislation that would put sanctions on 49 of Hong Kong judiciary officials, from top judges to the justice secretary.
Sullivan, a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon are co-chairs of the commission and are leading the bi-partisan effort.
The Hong Kong Judicial Sanctions Act holds officials of Hong Kong’s judiciary accountable for human rights violations and to support Hong Kongers facing persecution under Beijing’s National Security Law.” Hong Kong is in its third year of cracking down on freedom of speech, assembly, and the press, as its former self-governing status is buckling under the control of China. Hong Kong, which was released from being a colony of the United Kingdom in 1997, was set up at that time to be self-governing, under the “One Country, Two Systems,” principle granted to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Using the 2020 National Security Law, Hong Kong authorities increasingly prosecute people for loosely defined crimes, things that Americans would see as fundamental free-speech rights. Even more oppressive laws are coming next year.
The Hong Kong Judicial Sanctions Act requires the president to determine whether certain Hong Kong officials violated human rights and whether sanctions should be imposed in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, or the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.
On the House side, three representatives — Young Kim of California, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, and John Curtis of Utah — introduced companion legislation.
“We all know Hong Kong’s judiciary isn’t the source of pride and independence it used to be,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Since the 2019 – 2020 crackdown, the judiciary in Hong Kong has become an instrument of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to target innocent civilians. My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to focus the Biden administration’s attention on this insidious aspect of the CCP’s takeover of Hong Kong and the regime’s flagrant violation of the civil rights and autonomy promised to Hong Kongers in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Biden administration must let Beijing and their CCP lackeys in Hong Kong know that we are not fooled for a second.”
“Jimmy Lai’s case is unfortunately just the latest example of Beijing exploiting its ‘national security law’ to exert control of Hong Kongers,” said Congresswoman Young Kim, who serves as Chairwoman of the Indo-Pacific Subcommittee. “I am proud to lead the Hong Kong Sanctions Act so the United States can take strong, decisive action to support the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and hold officials accountable in violation of human rights.”
China is Alaska’s largest export market, with product valued at more than $1.3 billion going from Alaska to China annually. Much of it is seafood. While significant, it’s lower than the record set in 2011, when Alaska exports to China reached nearly $1.5 billion.