Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

November 20, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.R. 3289, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which passed on a 417 – 1 vote.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the distinguished Chairman for yielding.  I salute him and Mr. McCaul, the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to you – Mr. Engel – Mr. Chairman and Mr. McCaul.  Thank you for giving us – affording this opportunity to vote on the Human Rights and Democracy – the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

This is a proud day for the U.S. Congress, for our values of freedom and justice and for the people of Hong Kong. 

For six months, the people of Hong Kong stirred the hearts of all freedom-loving people with their extraordinary outpouring of courage and their refusal to relinquish their demand for democracy, democratic freedoms and the rule of law, which was promised more than two decades ago. 

Today, the Congress is sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States stands in solidarity with freedom-loving people of Hong Kong, and they – we fully support their fight for freedom. 

We salute Chairman McGovern, a leading voice for human rights in China and around the world; our Congressional Executive Commission on China Chair and also Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. 

And I thank Congressman Smith.  Just listening to him talk about – we're into like our third generation of freedom-loving people in Hong Kong.  Mr. Smith, I'm so glad you acknowledge the work of our distinguished former colleague, Frank Wolf, who was so very much a part and still continues to be a spiritual leader to us in this regard.  

We worked with Martin Lee and Anson Chan way back when and then – so, late 1980's, early 1990's, then into this new century with another generation, and now three generations – Martin Lee still being involved, but with Joshua Wong and all the young – Nathan Law – all the young participants who are there, because – because it is a sad situation.

In 1997, when the United Kingdom transferred Hong Kong to China, America was hopeful that the people of Hong Kong would achieve the ‘high degree of autonomy’ – ‘high degree of autonomy,’ that they were promised. 

Today it is beyond question that China has utterly broken that promise.  America's been watching for years as the people of Hong Kong have been increasingly denied their full autonomy and faced with a cruel crackdown on their freedoms and escalation of violence.

Most recently, the violent attacks against students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have shocked the world.  It's unconscionable and unacceptable.  More than 1,000 young people were denied food, water, first aid.  Scores were sent to the hospital for hypothermia after attempting to escape through a sewer and hundreds now languish in jail cells. 

Right now, frightened – right now, frightened parents of the students who remain on campus are holding vigil outside, praying that their children will be safe, clutching signs reading, ‘Save the kids, don't kill our children’ and ‘They are children of God!  Let them go!’

In the Congress, Democrats and Republicans stand united with the protesters and with the people of Hong Kong.  We have stood united in a bipartisan way.  It has been a very unifying issue for us, whether we're talking about the autonomy of Tibet – the Chinese are trying to destroy the culture, the language and the religion of Tibet.  With the Uyghurs – where one, two, three, maybe three million Uyghurs are under – are in education camps, which the Chinese government says they enjoy being in – oh really – and for human rights violations, suppression of human rights throughout all of China.

If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights elsewhere. 

Since Tiananmen Square, many of us in bipartisan way again have been fighting this fight, and we have seen that commercial interests always make the fight.  It's always for them been about money. 

To those who take the repressive Chinese government's side, I say, ‘What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?’ 

Today, the House is proud to once again pass bicameral, bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to reaffirm America's commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the face of Beijing's crackdown. 

And I see we have been joined by the distinguished Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. McCaul.  Thank you for your leadership in bringing this legislation to the Floor.  I acknowledged you earlier, along with our distinguished Chairman, Mr. Engel.

And we are proud to pass the Senate version of Chairman McGovern's PROTECT Hong Kong Act to suspend sales on dangerous munitions to the Hong Kong police.  We also salute Senator Merkley for his leadership in passing that on the Senate Floor.

The future of Hong Kong, the future of autonomy, freedom, and justice for millions, is at stake.

America must take a stand with Hong Kong.  I'm so pleased that we are making our statement in the Congress, in the House and in the Senate, on both sides of the aisle.  Democrats and Republicans unified in speaking out for democracy. 

With that, I urge a yes vote and both – on both of these bills and yield back the balance of my time.