Skip to main content

tv   Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on U.S. Policy Towards Hong Kong...  CSPAN  December 17, 2020 3:57am-4:59am EST

3:57 am
eastern for general speeches. at 2:00 p.m., they debate nine bills including legislation re-designating jimmy carter national historic site as a historic part. it's also possible members work on a spending passage -- package that funds the government through next year if an agreement is reached among lawmakers. that is on c-span. on c-span2, the senate returns to work on judicial nominations with the u.s. district court in tennessee and the district court of federal claims. at 9:00 a.m. on c-span3, the food and drug administration meets in open session to consider authorization for moderna's covid vaccine. next, a hearing on u.s. policy toward refugees from hong kong. the senate judiciary subcommittee on border security and immigration heard about recent legislation that would give refugee status to hong kong residents who have been targeted by the chinese communist party for protesting. witnesses include hong kong activists.
3:58 am
this runs an hour. of liquid savings to be able to weather this storm. the topic of today's hearing is something that all americans should be concerned about. that is the chinese communist party's continued encroachment on the fundamental rights of the people of hong kong.
3:59 am
in 1984, china and great britain agreed when hong kong reverted to chinese sovereignty, it would maintain a great deal of latitude. that was the deal struck in 1984. the u.s. affirmed that understanding when we passed the united states hong kong policy act of 1992 with bipartisan support. that act recognized that china would exercise sovereignty over hong kong, but under a one country, two systems framework, hong kong would retain it's systems for at least 50 years. in fact, we said in that legislation that we must safeguard human rights in and of themselves. i would be remiss if i didn't know, by the way, that our current majority leader was the sponsor of that legislation and
4:00 am
our colleague, the incoming chairman, perhaps, of this judiciary committee cosponsored it, chairman grassley. over the last six years in particular, china has reneged on that deal that they struck in order to gave sovereignty over hong kong. when you make a deal, you sign the agreement, you stick to it. china hasn't only gone back on the deal, they've used violence, suppression and intimidation to chip away at the rights and freedoms of the people of hong kong. in 2014 the standing committee issued a decision that empowered china to screen candidates and limit eligibility for the position of chief executive of hong kong to pro-beijing candidates. when the people exercised their rights and took to the streets to protest this encroachment on their rights, the hong kong police force used tear gas,
4:01 am
rubber bullets and pepper spray to force them into submission. last year an extradition bill was introduced that would have subjected to hong kong residents to mainland china's opaque criminal justice system. millions took to the streets in protest and the chinese government, once again, responded with aggressive and brutal tactics. in 2020, the national people's congress standing something passed the national security law for hong kong which criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. here's an example of what beijing considers inciting secession. a 19-year-old girl was arrested for waving a plflag with the wos "hong kong independence." a 19-year-old man was arrested for selling stickers.
4:02 am
and the united states we recognize that as free speech and it's fundamentally -- fundamental to any free people's way of life. but unfortunately just when you think things couldn't go worse, they do. last month the hong kong police launched a hotline for people to report national security law violations. the national people's congress standing committee recently disqualified four members of the hong kong legislative council for supporting hong kong's independence. 15 other legislative council members resigned in protest. leaving the legislative council dominated by the pro-beijing voting bloc. and just days ago, jimmy lay was charged under the national security law for colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security.
4:03 am
he faces a maximum punishment of life in imprisonment for freedom of the press. hong kong no longer enjoys the freedom. it's imperative that we remember the statement made in 1992, we must safeguard human rights in and of themselves. we've done some good work in the 116th congress to address the chinese communist party's actions. i was proud to cosponsor legislation to ban crowd control equipment. it passed the senate by unanimous consent authorized the u.s. government to impose sanctions on chinese and hong kong officials and financial institutions that serve this. this obviously is not enough. the situation is getting worse.
4:04 am
so we're here today to discuss deploying another tool in our toolbox. u.s. refugee and immigration policy. several members of this body have introduced legislation to extend protection to hong kong's prodemocracy activist under our immigration laws. today senators rubio and menendez will speak to us about their bill, the hong kong safe harbor act. we're proud to be cosponsors of that legislation and i believe it would extend a vital lifeline to the people of hong kong who are standing up for their basic liberties against the repressive communist regime. we have a lot of important work to do in this area, however, and i want to recognize the effort of other colleagues in this area. senator sasse introduced the victims of communism support act which would pave the way for activists to claim asylum in the united states. senator cotton introduced the
4:05 am
hong kong refugee protection act and the house just this last week, passed the hong kong people's freedom and choice act. to help us think through the decisions we need to make, we have two expert who is can speak to the implications and place this legislation in the greater context of the u.s. government's policies in this area. but most importantly, i'm pleased to welcome these activists who have risked their lives to promote liberty and democracy in hong kong and i hope that their testimony will gain a better understanding of the threats that demonstrators face to their freedom and what the impact and the pro democracy movement would be if we decide to act. thank you to all of the witnesses for coming. with that, i'll turn the floor over to the ranking member for opening remarks. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. the free world has been moved by the protesters in hong kong. it's impauling that thousands of
4:06 am
protestors in hong kong have been persecuted for fighting for liberties that the americans enjoy. the national security law imposed on hong kong by the chinese communist party has enabled the abuse of protestors, political leaders, journalists and teacher. it's not about secure, but fear. fear of the voices in hong kong calling for a formed democracy and freedom. i'll continue to push the leadership of china to respect democracy. i believe my colleagues on both sides of the aisle share my feelings about the crisis in hong kong. the question is, what are we going to do about it. as i said many times, the committee should be about legislation, not lamation. this legislation produced by the senate foreign relations committee requires sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations in hong kong, sends an important
4:07 am
message of bipartisan support from congress to those who are aspiring to democracy in hong kong. what about the judiciary committee? i'm proud to cosponsor the safe harbor act. that bill was introduced six months ago. why aren't we taking action on it. last week the hourmse of representatives passed related legislation which would provide refugee status to hong kongers facing persecution. we could take up this long today and send it to the president's desk to be signed into law. we can't ignore the reality that when we speak of refugees, the policy of the trump administration on refugees is dramatic -- a dramatic departure from what we have done since world war ii. since the enactment of the refugee act of 1980, for
4:08 am
example, the united states has resettled an average of 80,000 refugees per year. however, in the midst of the worst refugee crisis in the history of the world, the trump administration has set record low refugee admission targets four years in a row, culminating in the lowest level of refugees in history, 15,000. how many refugees has the united states admitted from hong kong in the last year? zero. not one. the trump administration is also decimated legal protections for hong kongers and other innocent victims who flee our borders. hong kongers could be denied asylum if they go through other states before entering the united states. the administration's reactions
4:09 am
do not evidence support for the hong kong democracy movement. they only punish victims of persecution who cause no threat to our security and have turned to america for safety. we must reverse refugee and asylum restrictions that harm us who have been persecuted. we must restore america as a beacon for those fleeing persecution, whether they're from hong kong, uyghurs, or syrians. america is stronger when we live up to the ideals we represent to the world. i yield. >> i would like to welcome our friends and colleagues, senator marco rubio of florida and senator robert menendez from new jersey. thank you for joining us today and we look forward to your testimony and any insight you can offer the committee. we'll start with senator rubio. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the ranking member for convening what i think is an
4:10 am
important hearing today and for inviting us both to be part of the opening remarks. i want to begin by thanking senator menendez. we've worked orientation a lot of legislation together. particularly to counter the threats posed by the chinese communist party, including introducing the kong safe harbor act which we'll talk about today. there's no reason to revisit the entire committee, everyone is well aware of what beijing did back in june when they imposed this draconian national security law on hong kong and soon since then, the authorities have arrested a number of activists. they've sentenced some of them to prison, including a 24-year-old activist. last month, joshua wong was sentenced to prison on ridiculous charges related to his participation in what they call last year's unlawful protests. ac since xi jingping took control of the party, they have
4:11 am
encroached on hong kong's autonomy every year. but in the last three years, this gradual encroachment accelerated into what is now a full-fledged campaign to crush their freedoms. in august we woke up to the tragedy news that authorities had defined 12 hong kongers who were fleeing the city by boat. they've been held at a detention city in the mainland ever since. they've been repeated denied access to legal counsel hired by their families. after four months of detention, these young people were charged earlier today with illegal border crossing. this is unheard of, by the way. people leaving on boats from hong kong. but it goes to show the circumstances are so desperate that young people are risking their lives to take to the sea. in october, authorities arrested
4:12 am
a 19-year-old on national security charges which were based on his political expression such as online activism and discussing hong kong independence with a fellow student. they arrested him on thought crime. and just last week, jimmy li was charged under the national security law, the chinese communist party has tried for years to silence one of the few outlets that publish prodemocracy pieces. it goes without saying, all of this, in all of these things, the chinese communist party has violated the commitments it made to hong kong's autonomy. they have shredded hong kong's basic through in the joint declaration. the demands of those in hong kong are reasonable demands.
4:13 am
they're demands that china live up to the things that it said it would respect under the framework of one country, two systems. which i might add, was a framework that they created themselves back in the 1980s. but i think we all know what to expect we'll see in the months and years to come. more broken promises and an unrelenting effort to crush anything it perceives as threatening. which brings us to our proposal which senator menendez will talk about as well. and i just say, that i'm under no illusion that it will help every single hong konger who is in need. i know it's not enough to tweet out the hashtag stand with hong kong. we can't let our inability to help everyone put us in a position of failing to help anyone. assisting hong kongers is not only the right thing to do, but it's also in our national security interest. hong kong is on the front line of a much larger struggle.
4:14 am
it's the broader struggle between authoritarianism and democracy. and i hope none of us will be bashful or shy away from saying clearly that democracy is morally superior to authoritarianism. it's for these reasons that senator menendez and i filed this bill. it would do three things, it would designate hong kongers as priority two refugees. it would help those in hong kong who are in immediate danger to apply for asylum and to be eligible nor the status which i think is important for individuals, front line activists, journalists, first aid responders at the protests, lawyers who provide legal services auch services all of these folks are in danger. congress has taken a clear stance in defense of hong kong by passing the act which the president signed into law. but i think more needs to be done and i believe what has happened here is a wake-up call
4:15 am
to the free world that we must work together to counter the threats of the chinese communist party to freedom worldwide and for us, i think that starts by doing what we can to assist those in hong kong who are in need of protection. so i thank you again for convening these hearings and i look forward to our continued partnerships on this timely issue. >> thank you, senator rubio. senator menendez. thank you, chairman, and ranking member durbin for calling this hearing. it shows the world that even in the midst of a pandemic and significant budgetary issues that we face, that we still pay attention to what's happening in the world. we can still be a beacon of light to those who pursue democracy and human rights. i want to thank you for doing that in the midst of everything that's going on here. we want to thank you for your cosponsorship. it's significant in our efforts.
4:16 am
and i appreciate the invitation to speak to the judiciary committee on the legislation that my dear friend colleague from florida and i have introduced regarding the crisis in hong kong this past summer. and the urgent need for the united states to provide refugee status for hong kongers who have been persecuted for simply wanting their freedom. as a cuban america, this issue is one that is close to my heart. as i well understand what it means to have friends and families whose hopes and aspirations for freedom are crushed by a communist dictatorship and the importance of the united states as a safe haven for those fearing persecution. it's no small moment of history that two cuban-americans are before this committee urging you to do something to the people of hong kong. it's critical that congress make
4:17 am
clear to the people of hong kong that we stand with them and to make clear to china's leaders that there are consequences for their decisions to impose its security law on hong kong, to violate their international agreements and for the decision to end hong kong's long-cherished autonomy. china made a promise to the international community and to the people of hong kong that they would enjoy certain freedoms of speech and assembly, free press, independence judiciary and could elect their own leaders, guarantees that have ensured hong kong's stability and prosperity. china's now reneged on its promises. it's undertaking a comprehensive assault on the cities autonomy rule of law and freedoms guaranteed by the basic laws and the british declaration. beijing seems set on its decision to bring an end to one country two systems and with it, an undertaking concerted assault
4:18 am
on hong kong's democracy activists, human rights activists, journalists and everyday hong kong citizens on trumped up charges of national security violations. given these new realities, it's critical for the united states to stand with the people of hong kong. we must stand up and make it clear that we're willing and committed to helping hong kongers preserve their society at home, if they can, and to provide refuge for those who face persecution for exercising their rights guaranteed under the joint declaration. we must make clear to the chinese communist party that we stand with hong kong and its residents and we will ensure they don't fall through the cracks of our immigration system if they are forced to flee for standing up to their fundamental rights. offering a safe haven through the safe harbor act, to the people of hong kong who have tirelessly fought against
4:19 am
tyranny is crucial to demonstrate that the united states will not bend. we cannot and must not be silent in the face of flagrant attacks on the freedoms we cherish and deserve and we can't slam the door on the case of hong kongers seeking refugee. i know many are concerned if we prior hong kongers eligibility, we may need to provide similar status for others foundationing similar crises elsewhere in the world, starting with our own hemisphere. but for decades, america led the world in humanitarian policies by creating a sanctuary for the oppressed and admitting more refugees annually than other countries combined. but for the past four years under the trump administration, issues related to refugees and immigration have been charged and that the cap on the number of refugees allowed into the
4:20 am
united states has been lowered by some 80%. dropping to a record low of 15,000 for 2021. america is currently shutting out the most vulnerable. and to me, that's disgraceful. we must not forget that our founders had a vision of our nation as a break beacon of hope for people around the world. it was because they recognized in doing so, we made our nation stronger. i hope my colleagues recognize that our american values demand we take action when people's lives are in danger and that is what truly makes america great. putting the larger debate aside, i believe that while we cannot provide assistance to everyone everywhere, that does not mean we should not provide it to anyone anywhere. we must seek to meet our obligation to the people of hong kong and this bill is in keeping with that vision. i urge the committee to report
4:21 am
out the hong kong safe harbor act to make clear to the people of hong kong that we stand with them. and the cost for china's actions in hong kong will be high. china is opportunistic, always pressing for openings. and while china's authoritarianism has mounted against its own people in hong kong, in tibet, the united states has too often signaled to chinese leaders that they could act with impunity. that's precisely the wrong signal to send and the wrong approach for our nation to take with regards to hong kong. our approach must be tough minded, undergirded by the commitment to autonomy. we need a broad new bipartisan strategy on china that will serve us for decades to come. and that will probably -- hope we can work together in the next
4:22 am
congress. but time does not standstill. we have an opportunity to act in the urging short term and take a divisive step that does right by the people of honk wong kong to a more closed and liberal future. i think this is important not just for the people of hong kong, but also for our continuing challenge to confront and to compete with china. and it is relatively small step, but it is a powerful message not just to the people of hong kong but beyond. thank you for this opportunity and for your courtesy. >> thank you, senator menendez. we'll turn to the next panel of witnesses that i'll introduce now. the first witness is julian ku, professor of constitutional law. he's an expert in the relationship of international
4:23 am
law to constitutional law. he's published on china's relationship with international law, prior to joining the law school faculty, he served as a clerk to jerry e. smith of the fifth circuit court of appeals and as a lecturer in law at the university of virginia school of law. he's a graduate of yale college and yale law school. joey siu is a hong kong american activist. and an adviser to the alliance on china. she's participated in hong kong's prodemocracy movement through organizing local grassroots campaigns and to her international advocacy for hong kong. as an advocate, for the people of hong kong, she's testified before the u.s. congress, spoken at the uk parliament in the united nations in geneva and
4:24 am
delivered briefings on the european union office at the european union office of the united nations. samuel chu is the founding and managing director of hong kong democracy council, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting hong kong's basic freedoms, autonomy and the rule of law. on july 31st, 2020, chinese state made reported that the hong kong authorities has issued arrest warrants against him under the new national security law making him the first american citizen to be targeted. he's the son of a leading prodemocracy activist who co-led an underground operation for people who participated in tiananmen square protest. nathan law is a member of the legislative council of hong kong. he participated in the umbrella movement of 2014 and in 2016
4:25 am
mr. law and the other student leaders founded a group. he was the youngest legislative counselor in that body's history in 2016. he was disqualified after he was found to have unproperly taken his swearing in oath. he was jailed for his participation in the umbrella movement. he's currently based in london and has also been targeted under the national security law. our final witness is a senior vice president of advocacy and policy at world relief where she provides oversight for all of the advocacy issues and policy positions as well as leading public relations efforts and managing the world relief refugee caseload. she has more than a decade of experience in refugee protection, immigration, policy and the human rights. and has been on an active deployment roster for the u.n. high commissioner for refugees.
4:26 am
she's currently co-chair of the advocacy committee of refugee council usa and is author of the book "welcoming the stranger: justice, compassion and truth in the immigration debate." i would ask the witnesses to come forward and take your seat in a socially distanced manner. we'll try to keep everybody safe. and i'm confident we will. but we're eager to hear from you. let me ask you to stand and raise your right hand. each i don't have you swear that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you.
4:27 am
we'll start with professor ku with his opening statement, please. >> thank you very much, senator. i want to thank the -- senator cornyn and the ranking member and the members of this subcommittee for inviting me today to participate in today's hearing. i'll talk more about some of the details of, one, the national security law and the reason why it's a problem and why it violates the guarantees of 1984. and also to talk about congress's response and the u.s. government's response to some of the gaps in its response and why a refugee law would be important in fleshing out the response of the u.s. government. so with respect to the national security law, one thing to keep in mind that i -- building on the comments people have --
4:28 am
senators have already made, one problem with it is -- that is unique about the national security law, it was adopted, implemented not by the government of hong kong, but by the national people's congress, china's top legislature. this is a clear violation of just the legal process, law making process of the promises made under the international treaty between the united kingdom and china and the process that serves as a mini constitution for hong kong. and the sbanubstance of the law problematic. it creates four new crimes which seriously endanger the ability of hong kongers to enjoy the rights and freedoms they were guaranteed under the joint declaration. i'm not going to provide analysis, but i'll mention a couple of them. the law's definition of
4:29 am
subversion and collusion with foreign actors is very broad. it's vague enough to compass mere speech that is found to seriously enter fear or provoke hatred towards the chinese or hong kong governments. this is really different from the laws of the united states which require an act, not just speech, but an imminent lawless action that would trigger -- that would be triggered by the speech before there could be any criminal consequences. i'll add the scope of the national security law which purports to criminalize the action by people anywhere in the world of any nationality, it means that any of us, including me, could be charged with violating the national security law by testifying here today. and the impact of the national security through is not the number of people who have been charged, f charged, but the knowledge in
4:30 am
hong kong that almost anyone can be charged under its broad definitions. this is chilled speech and actions by those in hong kong and that is, of course, the intent of this externally imposed, vaguely defined national security law. i'm sure my co-panelists will describe some of that today. let me talk about the u.s.'s response which has been vigorous. and the trump administration has acted, the congress has acted with passing new -- hong kong human rights and democracy act and the hong kong autonomy act and president trump has implemented congress's recommendations or requirements under those laws. and while i support all of those laws and the way in which they've been executed, i think it's fair to say that we can assess it's not enough. and if the goal of u.s. policy is to either deter the chinese government from taking away hong kong's freedom or autonomy or to
4:31 am
reverse the actions, we can say it's not had the effect right now. it's for this reason, i think the united states needs to start planning for what is going to be the long game. hong kong's freedom is not going to be restored next week or even next year and even under no matter how many sanctions are adopted by the united states. the u.s. needs to work to provide a safe harbor for those hong kongers who suffer the negative consequences for exercising their rights and freedoms that this congress has encouraged them to exercise. not just because it's a humanitarian gesture. because it's in the national security interest of the united states as senators rubio and menendez have mentioned. and i think it's important to also put in context that it's important that the united states act even though other countries might act as well. so while the united kingdom is offering residence rights to holders of the british overseas
4:32 am
passport, that approach doesn't target relief towards people who have exercised or protested the chinese governments. people who might have protested the government may not be eligible for this relief that they get in britain. that's almost two broad. it covers people who may not be in support of the hong kong democracy and autonomy. the faith harbor law and the other laws this congress is considering would target the relief towards those hong kongers who have suffered political persecution or have a fear of political persecution by the chinese or hong kong governments and it would give protection for those individuals, for those individuals who stood up or who are endanger of political persecution, not a blank check to anyone from hong kong who wants to come to the united states. it's also important that the united states act not just because -- because it sets a standard for other countries. it's hard these days for countries to stand up to china without receiving significant belowback. australia is currently locked in
4:33 am
a separate dispute. canada has been beaten up for its actions and trying to extradite someone to the united states, a chinese national. if the united states acts, it will allow those countries a little bit of important cover before they take similar measures that would help hong kong. let me conclude by saying, this congress has made clear that a free and autonomous hong kong is in the national interest of the united states. but there are no silver policy bullet that is are going to achieve this outcome. hong kong is not going to be restored to its past glory anytime soon, but it's essential that people who have stood up are given the opportunity to keep fighting. the safe who boharbor act is a o restore a free and autonomous hong kong. >> thank you, professor. all of your written statements will be made part of the record
4:34 am
without objection and we'll turn to joey siu for her opening statement. if you would try to keep that to five minutes and then we'll have time for questions. i know we have votes this afternoon. so we're trying to get this done as thoroughly as we can in the shortest a period of time as we can. >> chairman, ranking member durbin and members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me today. i was born in north carolina and moved to hong kong, in a city that i call home, are my family, and friends, and millions of humble, hardworking people. last september i testified before the house committee on asia for proliferation of challenges. at that time hong kongers were processing the trauma of the tragic sieges of university, celebrating's landslide victory in the election. a year later the situation worsened. the legislative council election
4:35 am
was canceled and democratic l u lawmakers were disqualified. it criminalizes even the most trivial forms of protesting. by speaking to you here today it is likely that i will also cross a line and become a criminal against the chinese communist party. since the implementation of the national security law, 40 hong kongers have been arrested under it, including milai, and actress chao and a 17-year-old student who now faces between ten years to life under the fake charges of sub version of state. the legislation also empowers the chief executive of hong kong to designate judges that will handle the cases and that the national security department of hong kong itself can exercise jurisdiction over cases conceded to be complex or serious. this is a fatal blow to hong kong's once independent
4:36 am
judiciary, and the hong kong government will more frequently exercise these options to avoid these judges from rightfully dismissing the charges against protesters. under the haze of the law and fearing extradition to mainland china. hong kong protesters are in desperate need to escape. among them are 12 hong kongers who are captured by chinese authorities while trying to escape by speed boat to taiwan. as a u.s. citizen, i am privileged enough to be protected by the u.s. government and can always come home, however many of my friends and those who stood on the front line to defend the city's freedom and democracy are not. the united states must not ignore their plight and we should be joining our closest allies to help hong kongers. my organization hong kong watch has been working with different countries for a global lifeboat. the uk announced a policy to provide a pathway for
4:37 am
citizenship for passport holders from hong kong. also australia and canada continued to offer help to hong kongers to mainly students and skilled workers allowing them to remain in the country and een eventually to permanent residency. however, people will still fall through the gaps of the policies. they were born after 1997 and they require top prolivecation and a level of funding. these decent hong kongers are at the most risk of being charged under the national security law as they drive the protest over 2019. hong kongers have learned hard lessons from failing to understand the chinese communist party and the united states cannot afford to make the same mistakes. with limited time left in this congress, it is important to
4:38 am
highlight necessary measures to address the problems with getting hong kongers out of hong kong safely. first, the u.s. should lift capacity for hong kongers and expedite refugee processing. the refugee processing system provides vigorous for applicants and it should be open to hong kongers with well-founded fear of persecution. second, the most at risk hong kongers including journalists, organizers and also those who are already facing protest-related charges cannot wait for refugee processing. the bar for them to come to the united states should be lowered and we should get them out of hong kong safely first and then to find a right way to offer them safe harbor. third, many hong kongers are now living aboard in exile including here in the states. assistance and solution to the legal limbo such as the temporary protective status should be considered. and aside from the legislative approach, the congress should
4:39 am
also encourage this administration and the next to exercise considerable powers of the executive branch. the administration can develop power programs such as the cuban medical professional program to channel those at risk to the u.s. when they have left hong kong safely. as the chinese communist party gradually takes complete control to hong kong and extends it to under national ally, u.s. leadership in leading global actions to support hong kong has never been more important. a clear message has to be sent to beijing that america will always stand with the freedom fighters who are standing on the front lines to defend our shared values. last, but not least, i would like to take this precious opportunity to again call for attention on the 12 hong kongers who have been held in detention in mainland china for more than 115 days now. america's continuous attention and assistance to hong kongers is much needed. god bless america, and god bless hong kong. thank you.
4:40 am
>> thank you very much. mr. chu. >> good afternoon. thank you, chairman -- thank you chairman cornyn and ranking member durbin and members of the committee for organizing this timely hearing today and for the opportunity to contribute to this committee's work in support of pro-democracy movement in hong kong. on the evening of july 30th i fell asleep watching re-runs of "law and order." the next morning i woke up a fugitive. chinese state television had reported overnight that hong kong authorities had issued arrest warrants for six pro-democracy activists overseas. i was one of the six. my alleged crime, inciting secessions and colluding with foreign powers. both part of the national
4:41 am
security law imposed june 30th of this year. both crimes are punishable for up to life in prison. it doesn't matter that i've been an american citizen for 25 years. having left hong kong in 1990 to live in the united states. my surprising status as a wanted fugitive, and i consider it a badge of honor, illustrated the imminent threats to freedom posed by china. yet, because i reside in the u.s. my fate pales in comparison to those of the thousands of freedom-loving hong kongers facing the very real prospect of years behind bars today. hong kong has fallen. it's gone from being the freest city in china to a quasi police state where someone like jimmy lie can be charged for a crime for simply following the taiwanese president's eye on twitter or coming to d.c. joining me for a meeting with members of congress on the hill
4:42 am
as we learn from the charges that was levied against him last week. my own personal coming to america story has a unique connection to today. just over 30 years ago, my father, the reverend ming helped build the underground railroad codenamed operation yellow birds that rescued hundreds of protesters who protested in tiananmen square. they were smuggled out of mainland and smuggled in hong kong before settling in western nations including the u.s. hong kongers like my father took great personal risk to preserve a generation of brave, young protesters, and as a part of the fallout, my father sent me to the u.s. in 1990 as a 12-year-old to head off any potential retaliation against him and my family by the chinese communist party. hong kong was a safe harbor for
4:43 am
pro-democracy activists from china, but now hong kongers need a safe harbor. the u.s. and this congress in particular has been a leader in the global response to china's crackdown in hong kong. by revoking the special treatment that hong kong enjoyed with the united states by sanctioning hong kong and chinese official who participated in crackdowns, but the united states can add to this approach with another kind of threat, undermining the ccp regime and its global competitive edge by offering a lifeline to hong kongers. this is why hkc is proud to support the hong kong safe harbor act and it gives courageous hong kong activists the status of priority to refugees. historically, the u.s. has used this special refugee status as a soft power tool. from southeast asian refugees who arrived after the fall of
4:44 am
saigon in '75 to those from iraq in 2001 and to the soviet jews and cubans, refugee policy has been used as a way to challenge and undermine socialist or authoritarian regimes without going to war. china's loss would be america's gain. an influx of hong kongers with their knowledge, skills, money, entrepreneurship, with the deep cultural and economic ties to the u.s. would be a social and economic boon for the united states. yet currently hong kongers have limited ways of coming to the u.s. applying for political asylum requires you to be physically in the u.s. on a student visa or tourist visa. securing this visa can be difficult and has been difficult because of the pandemic and even harder because of travel and exit bans on hong kong and the increased likelihood of bail being denied to activists that
4:45 am
have been charged. hong kong could apply for refugee status outside of the u.s. and the administration has allocated spots specifically to hong kongers. but increased surveillance by police and security forces put these activists at heightened risk of arrests. that's why the provisions involving a safe harbor act is so critical. hong kongers facing prosecutions require multiple ways to safety which is why i encourage this committee and support this committee to support the hong kong freedoms and choice act of 2020 that was passed by the house last week. by passing these bills, congress has shown america has opened the door to not just brave activists and protesters and generations of the bravest and brightest. finally, in passing a supportive safe harbor it should not be
4:46 am
interpreted as a sign of surrender by the pro-democracy movement. by contrary, your action would be an immediate and unmistakable boost. the action by the u.s. and its allies would help reserve the bravest and brightest leaders of the hong kong movement. individuals like nathan law who you have heard from, from joey su and her colleagues to continue the fight overseas, and us resources are being restricted and the hong kong government are moving to freeze bank accounts of individuals, leaders and organizations in support of a protest. a promise of safe harbor would lead to more investment and people in hong kong safeguarding their assets and money overseas even if they stay in hong kong. a promise of safe harbor in the u.s. would ensure that resources and funding can continue to support hong kong. >> let me close by saying that
4:47 am
the time has come when we launched it last year, there might come a time when hong kong would no longer be able to peek and fight with prison and we are now the front line and we need actions to continue this fight. 31 years ago my father saved a generation of freedom fighters who escaped tiananmen, and it could not and would not have happened without quick action of generosity of countries like the u.s., the united kingdom and france. my father might not have imagined today's hearing 31 years ago when he put me on a plane to come to the u.s., but he had faith that america was a beacon of hope for refugees. that was the faith that he had when he sent the tiananmen square protesters here, when he sent me here. i might have started my life in the u.s. under the fear of retaliation and persecution by the ccp, but because of the safe harbor i found here, i have grown to be a fugitive and a
4:48 am
thorn in the side of the communist party of china. with your action and support the american dream can become the ccp's worst nightmare. thank you. >> thank you. mr. lar, are you with us virtually? >> yes, indeed. >> please proceed with your statement. if you keep it to five minutes then we'll get to miss yang and we'll take a brief recess so we can go cast our votes on the floor. please go ahead. >> sure. >> thank you, chairman connor, ranking member durbin, senator menendez for having today's hearing. it is my honor to testify in front of the committee about the security and immigration. the title of today's hearing is supporting hong kong's pro-democracy movement through u.s. refugee policy. i think this is exactly the stance that we should take. as we all are aware, the hong
4:49 am
kong we used to know is gone now, after a year-long protest and the authority, the confidence of hong kong people toward the one country, two system frameworks has basically vanished. with the draconian national security law, beijing has the power to detain, arrest and prosecute any political activists or dissidents that they don't like. the sole purpose of the law is to quash our freedom of expression and any desires for political changes and the right to protest, and it has created widespread psychological terror and fear across the city. with the latest in july, we can see how the law is being used. he was charged under the national security law for colluding with forces and he's kept in custody until next april when he can finally appeal in court. the police draw evidence on a
4:50 am
wide basis that everyone could have crossed the line. these include 53 follows on twitter including taiwanese president's u.s. secretary of state mike pompeo, human rights activist ben rogers and others and interviews with wall street journal, cnn, fox, bloomberg, the new york times and colluding with forces. this is a trumped-up charge and many others including other threats. beijing is also suddenly blurring the bounding of the national security law as the national security judges can now oversee non-national security law cases even though suspects have not been charged under the legislation as the recent ruling. the move has set a bad
4:51 am
precedent. it implies distance, ex-pats and foreign companies would have had higher risk of falling into the trap. the deterioration in hong kong has pushed more political figures and young professionals to lead the city. therefore, it is much needed for the democratic communities to provide safe exit for these politically persecuted protesters in hong kong. the uk and canada, as the speaker has mentioned, have adopted millions of people a pathway to citizenship. this is a signal showing how severe the situation in hong kong is. the u.s. should take reference from this experience and implement measures to help the people in hang kong. >> hong kong's freedom and choice act and the safe harbor act are the answers to prid these provisions and unnecessary channels. thousands of young people can be
4:52 am
saved from political persecutions and live free from the threats of the chinese communist party. the policy of recommendations and also be achieved by legislative measures even if they aren't able to be passed in this time and i would hope the administration takes up these recommendations and applies them accordingly. it is important that global communities continuously feel their support of the freedom-loving people in hong in history when there are 80 million people that have been forced from their homes a record number since world war ii. i want to recognize my co-panelists for testifying here today. your commitments for hong kong and people everywhere continues to inspire millions around the world. each of you demonstrates that the refugee crisis is not just about the millions. it's ultimately about the one individual in his or her story
4:53 am
that puts a face and a name to those who are displaced. i am speaking today on behalf of the humanitarian arm of the national association of evangelicals that was founded over 70 years ago in response to individuals that were displaced by conflict. we currently work in 14 countries around the world and in 17 communities across the united states to serve immigrants including in north texas and in four communities across illinois. i am here on behalf of refugee council usa, organizations dedicated to the protection and welcome of forcibly displaced peoples. this year marks the 40th anniversary of the refugee act of 1980 which was passed unanimously in the senate. at that time congress recognized, and said that the united states needed to show specific leadership and codifies a law of specific processes of those who are forcibly displaced can find protection in the united states of america. for over four decades, the world leader in resettling
4:54 am
refugees. our ability to welcome anyone fleeing persecution regardless of the race, ethnicity or religion has been a hallmark of our democracy and a principal position that we have taken against communist regimes that stifle and oppress its people. now as we are witnessing the draconian effects of a new law in hong kong where people are living in fear in hong kong and are forced to flee elsewhere, the united states needs to show leadership again, but in order for the united states to truly help the people of hong kong, congress must work with the administration to restore the refugee emissions program and build it back from the systematic dismantling. as such, i want to briefly go over four areas in which congress can work with the administration to do this. first, we need to increase the refugee, missions number from the historic low of 15,000 to the historic norm of at least 95,000 refugees per year by increasing the presidential determination, we're allowing more spots to be available from
4:55 am
those of hong kong and elsewhere to find refuge in the united states. secondly, we need to increase the flexibility and capacity of the united states to process refugees. the inclusion of residents of hong kong and the fy-'21 was a step in the right direction, but reduce increasing capacity has meant that there is a long and lengthy weight for those trying to find so in america. we had to not only schedule circuit rides it that region, bub break through current processing logjams so that those that are valuable in the united states of america. we need to have creative ways to process them, this reports increasing capacity for capacity and ngo power for pathways for protection who are facing
4:56 am
extreme -- we must also make sure that our silent processes work to protect them, as well. the recently finalized rule on asylum was to hamper if not altogether make impossible the ability for many hong kong asylum seekers to find refuge in the united states of america. for those from other countries before seeking the protection of those countries before coming to the united states. it would narrow the persecution based on political opinion so that such activities relate to the ability to change political control of the government at that time. lastly, the united states congress must robustly fund the u.s. refugee missions program. we are recommending 4.35 billion for the migration assistance account as well as 3 or 4 billion through labor hhs and we are here to explore every avenue protection available for hong kong, but we must also extend
4:57 am
protections to other refugees from china including uighurs and other muslims who were found to be detained in 1400 concentration camps around china. the ability to have a robust emissions program and affects not only our ability to help from hong kong and thousands of others who languish refugee camps who have no durable solution in sight. the united states has a creative capacity and the ability with the support of local community proses is and welcome hong kong refugees as well as thousands of others who have nowhere else to go. we what it will take is the political will, and resources from congress to get the job done. fewer than 1% of the world's refugees will ever be resettled to a third country and congress has to act now to provide the crown jewel of humanitarianism. it is i direct indicator of a commitment to human rights and
4:58 am
it will have an impact on our ability to promote democracy abroad. whether the residents of hong kong will avail themselves at the protection of the united states may very well depend on how agile and efficient the process actually is. thus, the united states should not only strengthen our own refugee and asylum processes, but work with other countries like australia, canada, the united kingdom and others to keep their pathways of protection open as well. i want to conclude by saying that i would be remiss if i didn't mention the season that we're in right now. we are a week away from christmas when those of us in the christian tradition celebrate the birth of jesus. jesus found temporary shelter in a barn and was immediately after that a refugee when he had to flee egypt in order to save his own life. jesus was a refugee and we know about the christmas story that jesus didn't choose to distance themselves from those suffering in the world and he chose to
4:59 am
directly enter into it. at this time of unprecedented forced moog raising, the united states has the responsibility to meet the need of our neighbors and while we promote the values of democracy through a strong and flexible emissions program, we are not just reflecting the national history. we are reinforcing our national character. as congress explores the challenges and opportunities associated with hong kong refugees, world relief and the broader usa community i look forward to working with you and the administration to meet these objectives. >> thank you very much. the committee will stand in recess for -- so senator durbin and i and any other members can go vote. for the benefit of the witnesses it will probably be 15 minutes or so. thank you.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on