Floor Speech in Support of H.Res. 130 Condemning Violation of Freedoms of Hong Kong
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives in support of H.Res. 130, condemning the continued violation of the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his very moving and profound statement on democracy and democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. Thank you for your leadership, Mr. Chairman, for bringing this important legislation to the Floor. I thank the Ranking Member, Mr. McCaul, for his leadership, as well, on an ongoing basis on this important issue and for his courtesy for yielding back.
It is always an honor to be with Chris Smith. We've been working on these issues together for, what, 30 years, Chris?
A very long time, to demonstrate the bipartisan nature of the support that we have for democratic freedoms in Hong Kong, in the House and in the Senate: bicameral and bipartisan.
Mr. Speaker, Friday was a sad day and disturbing day for the people of Hong Kong and for all freedom-loving people, as sentences were handed down to Martin Lee, a champion, a global champion of human rights, and to other pro-democracy leaders for engaging in peaceful, peaceful protests.
This afternoon, three days after that distressing development, I had the privilege to speak with activists from the Hong Kong Democracy Council. It was an inspiration to hear how they and the people of Hong Kong are responding to China's crackdown. They are responding with great courage – how the dream of real autonomy can't be extinguished by injustice or intimidation. In our conversation earlier today – in all my communication with Hong Kongers – they asked that the House, the United States Congress, continue to speak out, to support their aspirations for the freedoms that they were promised. We were there when they promised them, right, Chris? Today, with this resolution, Congress is honoring that call.
Thank you, Chairman Meeks, Ranking Member McCaul, again, and Representatives Bera and Malinowski, the distinguished Chair of the [Congressional-Executive Commission on] China, Mr. McGovern, for their work on this important legislation.
House Resolution 130 condemns the continued violation of rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong by the People's Republic of China and the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Regent. It states that Congress – China continues to ‘disregard its international legal obligation under the joint declaration,’ which mandates, among other pledges, that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy and, ‘The personal rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong would be protected by the law.’
And this resolution today makes clear that China has trampled on its promises, including [with] its draconian so-called national security law, used to target and round up peaceful protesters under the guise of terrorism; the disqualification of pro-democracy candidates from participating in the September 6 legislative council election; the indictment and arrest for six Hong Kong activists living overseas, as the Chairman pointed out, including here in the United States; and the arrest of and sentences of a dozen of pro-democracy activists, including, as was mentioned, Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and opposition leaders – the Hong Kong Twelve – over this past December and January. Again, I mentioned Martin Lee.
The United States Congress has always supported Hong Kong on a bipartisan, bicameral basis, and we remain laser focused on efforts to support Hong Kong's effort to maintain and grow the rule of law and freedom of speech in their home. And – and we are determined to hold China accountable.
Our response must include further strengthening our work with international coalitions – this has to be multilateral; passing legislation in addition to this resolution to support Hong Kong, building on the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. Our legislative response must also address the plight of Uyghurs and Tibetans and the violation of their rights in China. And we must continue to use our platform to speak out about Beijing's crackdown on the global stage and ensure that the voices that the Chinese government are trying to silence are heard.
In response to – our focus must be on human rights. As I always say, if we do not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights anywhere in the world. That is why I've been stating and fighting – as we have together since 1991, when I went to Tiananmen Square and unfurled a black and white banner reading, ‘To those who died for democracy.’ Ever since, many of us have fought to ensure human rights and trade are firmly linked, from sponsoring U.S.-China Act in 1993, to [in] 1994 urging China to deny most favored nations of goods made by P.L.A. in the prisons – Mr. Smith, Mr. Frank Wolf went there and saw the evidence of prison labor goods being sent to the U.S. and corporate America just ignoring the whole thing; in 2000, fighting efforts to give China a blank check when it failed to comply with its market commitments under the W.T.O. – and they still continue to do that. We cannot allow economic interests to blind our moral injustices – us to moral injustices committed by China.
On Friday, in a speech to court, the storied Hong Kong attorney Margaret Ng quoted Sir Thomas More, the patron saint of the legal profession, who was tried for treason because he would not bend the law to the king's will. Margaret Ng entered her statement by paraphrasing his final famous words, ‘I stand the law's good servant, but the people's first. For the law must serve the people, not the people the law.’
With that, I support an overwhelming bipartisan vote for this resolution, for the Congress' continued bipartisan, bicameral work to support the people of Hong Kong in the face of Beijing's exploitation of and assault on the law.
This is a very important piece of legislation. I’m so glad it's going to have bipartisan support. I urge an aye vote, and I yield back the balance of my time. Grateful to the Chair and the Ranking Member of the Committee.