Pelosi Remarks at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing on Beijing’s National Security Law in Hong Kong
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing, “‘The End of One County, Two Systems?: Implications of Beijing’s National Security Law in Hong Kong,” which also featured testimony from General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions Cheuk-yan Lee, Former Hong Kong Legislative Council Member Nathan Law and other pro-democracy advocates. Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank you and Mr. McCaul and Mr. Eliot Engel for having this hearing today.
It is with great sadness that I come here, because we had such optimism and such hope. The U.S. Congress has always spoken in a bipartisan, House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, with one voice in defense of those who are oppressed by Beijing and in support of freedom, justice and real autonomy for the people of Hong Kong.
We continue to urge President Trump to hold Chinese officials accountable for abuses, including taking steps under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties.
But here today, I am very honored to join Cheuk-yan Lee, General Secretary, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions; Carole Peterson, Professor of Law, University of Hawaii; Brian Leung, a Ph.D. candidate – university candidate, University of Washington and, virtually, electronically, Nathan Law, Legislative Council, former Member, leg. council of Hong Kong and former Chairman Demosistō.
Again, for years, the world has watched in horror as Beijing has accelerated his – its campaign to dismantle the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. From its brutal response to peaceful protest to the introduction of the horrific extradition law that we condemned. So many times, this committee, Mr. McCaul, Mr. Eliot Engel, in the Senate: Marco Rubio, Mr. Cardin and others, have put forth – now, Chris Van Hollen, Mr. Toomey over there, Democrats and Republicans, have put the bright spotlight on what is happening. The China, the [Congressional] Executive Commission on China, chaired by Mr. McGovern and co-chaired by Chris Smith, Vice Chair Chris Smith, have worked very hard with hearings, et cetera, as has this committee, to call attention to all of this. The Lantos Commission on Human Rights, the former chair of this committee, in a bipartisan way, has called attention to all of this over the years, since Tiananmen Square and then, in terms of Hong Kong, more specifically, leading up to 1987 and including that.
And what’s so sad about it is that the Chinese just think – the Chinese regime just thinks that they can act with impunity and repressing the spirit of democracy. Two million people turned out against the extradition law. Two million people. That’s a big crowd in the United States, but when you understand it was 25 percent of the population of Hong Kong, it’s just almost anybody who could go out showed up against what the Chinese regime was going to do.
And what they want, they want – the most horrible form of horror, I just keep using the same word, for someone who is fighting for democracy or is imprisoned because – is for the regime to say, ‘Nobody cares. They’re not even paying attention to what you’re doing. Nobody remembers you, that you’re in prison and that – or why you’re even there.’
Well, we know why they’re there. Something deep in the souls of all of us. Something that the young people commemorated in Tiananmen Square, having the Goddess of Democracy as their symbol.
Goddess of Democracy as their symbol, something that we had lead the way on and that we cannot turn our backs on.
When Beijing announced its intention to pass the so-called National Security Law, so-called, we were concerned. It was frightening. It is nothing short of an all-out effort to negate the rights of the people of Hong Kong in violation of the agreements made under the ‘One Country, Two Systems.’
We were concerned of what it might be, and it exceeds even those horrors. The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised.
Thank you to the Committee for holding this hearing, which asked the question, ‘Is this the end of the ‘One Country, Two Systems?’ It seems that it is.
As I have stated, Beijing’s so-called National Security Law passed on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of the handover of Hong Kong from the U.K. to China, signals the death of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.
The purpose of this law is to frighten, intimidate and suppress the people of Hong Kong who are peacefully demanding the freedoms they have long been owed. All freedom-loving people must come together to condemn the law, which accelerates Beijing’s years-long assault on Hong Kong’s political and economic freedoms.
Many of us have been working – Mr. Smith and I have been working for a while – three generations, Martin Lee, another generation, now Nathan Law and Joshua, to see the courage of these people speaking out as they have done and to see matters just getting worse in terms of the regime.
Of course, right now we are also concerned about the Uyghurs in China, the Tibetans in Tibet, the list goes on. In terms of the Uyghurs, what we are finding out this morning is that not only are they putting Uyghurs in concentration camps, they are, by social media and the rest, tracking Uyghurs throughout the world and what their communications is with people inside. So, this reaches into our own – reaches into our own country.
Again, I’ll say all freedom-loving people must come together to condemn this law. We must work together in a multilateral way to monitor the implementation of this law and hold Beijing accountable for its violations of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.
As I’ve said many times over – I’ve said this over and over again, if we do not speak out for human rights and democratic freedoms in China – let’s just talk about human rights – if we do not speak out for human rights and religious freedoms in China, we lose all moral authority to speak out anyplace.
Our silence is because of commerce. If we refuse to speak out on human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world.
Again, Mr. Chairman, Acting Chairman, Mr. Sherman, thank you for the recognition. Thank you to Mr. McCaul and to the Members for the opportunity with the unanimous consent to express some of the views, which I hold to be bipartisan, bicameral, in support of the people of China, in this case Hong Kong.
I yield back. Thank you.
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m going to yield back to you so we can hear questions from the Members, but, again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here.
I spent – Mr. Smith and I talked about the 30 years that we’ve worked together on this issue, but we always want to be current. And I spend about an hour a day on China issues to be current; none of them more valuable than the one I just spent here, hearing what is happening in Hong Kong in terms of this law.
The concern that I have, which there may not be an answer to here, we’ll see, is: does this law, is it retroactive? Do they go back to any of the flying of flags or making of statements or is it from now forward, which would be horrible enough? But that is a fear that I have.
I hope – I want to thank our witnesses, Mr. Lee, Ms. Peterson, Mr. Leung and Nathan. Once again and again he has courageously testified. And I say to them that I think the highest compliment they could receive is to see this is an overflow crowd of Democrats and Republicans in this committee, honoring the spatial distance, overflowing into the audience. This is quite remarkable and a real expression of the bipartisan concern that we have for democracy, the democratic reform, and the so-called – well, I don’t even want to identify with the name they use because it doesn’t have to do with security, it has to do with repression.
But I thank all of you for turning out for this because when we talk to the people of Hong Kong about what they want to see from us, they want to see our support. This committee, in a bipartisan way, has done that very significantly.
So, with that, I thank you for the opportunity to spend my very valuable hour here, to hear our witnesses, to compliment you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. McCaul.