The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act 2019 has been formally proposed in the US Congress

A new version of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act has been proposed by US Congressman James McGovern, Marco Rubio and Chris Smith recently. The bill number and name are: S. 1838 — The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, the full text of the bill can be downloaded here (https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s1838/BILLS-116s1838is.xml).

Image for post
Image for post
Figure 1 US Congress Act №1838 — Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019

S.3(4) draws the most attention in Hong Kong, as it is “interpreted” as a condition that universal suffrage shall be implemented in 2020. Yet, the original statement uses the word “to support .. the establishment by 2020 of open and democratic election …” as shown below:

“SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

(4) to support the establishment of a genuine democratic option to freely and fairly nominate and elect the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the establishment by 2020 of open and direct democratic elections for all members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council”

Section 4 of the Bill is about modifying the US-Hong Kong Policy Act. For the analysis of the original contents of the 1992 US-Hong Kong Policy Act, you can refer to my 2018 article: (Yiu, 2018). For the relationship between the US-Hong Kong Policy Act and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, please refer to my 2019 article: (Yiu, 2019a).

One of the special revisions in this proposal is s.206. It deals with the application for visa arrangements for political prisoners in Hong Kong. The original texts of some of the important sub-sections are as follows:

“SEC. 206. TREATMENT OF HONG KONG APPLICANTS FOR VISAS TO STUDY OR WORK IN THE UNITED STATES.”
“(2) instructing the United States Consulate in Hong Kong to maintain an active list of individual whom are known to have been detained, arrested, or otherwise targeted by the Government of Hong Kong or of China, or intermediaries of such governments, as a Result of their participation in the 2014 protests, to facilitate the cross-checking of visa applications for Hong Kong residents;
“(4) instructing personnel at the United States Consulate in Hong Kong to engage with relevant individuals in the Hong Kong community to proactively inform them that they will not face discrimination when applying for a visa to the United States due to any adverse action They by the authorities as a result of their participation in the 2014 protests or other peaceful pro-democracy or human rights demonstrations.”

Section 5 is about Hong Kong’s implementation of US export control and sanctions. In recent years, the US has repeatedly complained that the Hong Kong government has not implemented US export control and sanctions. The Hong Kong government official has recently directly and openly refused the implementation of US Sanctions (Sing Tao Daily, 2019):

"the Secretary of the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau even openly responded on May 30 that Hong Kong will only comply with the relevant sanctions required by the UN Security Council resolutions in accordance with the instructions of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hong Kong will not follow any unilateral sanctions that individual countries may impose on certain places based on their own considerations." (Yiu, 2019b)

Section 4 of the Bill seems to imply the initiators’ perception that Hong Kong has not taken the responsibility of implementing US export control or sanctions while enjoying the current preferential treatment of the US-Hong Kong Policy Act. The Bill proposes to assess whether the Chinese Government has exploited from the status of an independent customs territory of Hong Kong to violate the US export control or sanctions by re-exporting goods to restricted areas. In the Greater Bay Area Plan, Beijing has positioned Hong Kong as a national technology and innovation center, or through other programs, which is perceived as using Hong Kong as a pipeline for sensitive technologies. The original is as follows:

“(4) an assessment of the efforts by the Government of China to use the status of Hong Kong as a separate customs territory to import items into China in violation of the export control laws of the United States, whether as part of the Greater Bay Area Plan, the assignment of Hong Kong by Beijing as a national technology and innovation center, or through other programs that may exploit Hong Kong as a conduit for controlled sensitive technology”

Section 6 deals with the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO) and the National Security Law (Article 23 of the Basic Law) in HK. s.6(b)(3) is to re-examine whether the Hong Kong Government can still perform under the treaties and international agreements between the US and HK according to section 201(b) of the US-Hong Kong Policy Act.:

"(b) Policy Statements. — It is the policy of the United States —
(3) pursuant to section 201(b) of such Act (22 USC 5721(b)), to decide whether the Government of Hong Kong is “legally competent to carry out its obligations” under treaties and international agreements established between the United States And Hong Kong."

And Sec. 6(c)(A)-(c ) are actions to be taken if the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance HK is amended, including (A) to re-examine whether the Hong Kong Government can still perform the current US-Hong Kong fugitive surrender agreement, and C) (ii) to consider revising the travel warning to Hong Kong to reflect the potential impact of the amendment of the FOO on US citizens travelling to or via Hong Kong:

“(A) assesses whether the Government of Hong Kong is “legally competent” to administer the United States-Hong Kong Agreement for the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders;

(C )(ii) whether the Department of State will revise the travel advisory for Hong Kong to reflect the potential impact of the revised Fugitive Offenders Ordinance on United States residents and individuals traveling to, or transiting through, Hong Kong”

Sec. 7 is about investigating officials involved in "the Causeway Bay bookstore and similar incidents". Sec. 8 is about revoking the visa of the relevant persons:

“(b) Current Visas Revoked. —
(1) IN GENERAL. — The issuing consular officer, the Secretary of State, or the Secretary of Homeland Security (or a designee of either Secretary) shall revoke any visa or other entry documentation issued to any alien who is included on the list required Under section 7(a), regardless of when such visa or entry documentation was issued.”

The above highlights are based on the uploaded draft, it should be noted that the discussion of the bill by the US Congress may take a long time and is subject to revisions and voting. Since the bill has a far-reaching impact on Hong Kong, we must pay close attention to it.

[a Chinese version is available at https://vocus.cc/eyanalysispoliecon/5d104b24fd89780001a510ac]

References:

姚松炎 (2018) 香港經濟命懸美港政策,10月6日。https://vocus.cc/eyanalysispoliecon/5bb87539fd89780001dd48d1

姚松炎 (2019a) 美港人權民主法案與美港政策法的關聯,5月31日。https://vocus.cc/eyanalysispoliecon/5cf09f8bfd89780001b3e895

姚松炎 (2019b) 香港政府如何執行聯合國制裁令?,2月20日。https://vocus.cc/eyanalysispoliecon/5c6ccb0efd89780001bc9cf1

星島日報 (2019) 美威脅懲罰香港 促勿助伊朗運油,5月30日http://std.stheadline.com/daily/article/detail/2011594-%E6%B8%AF%E8%81%9E-%E7%BE%8E%E5%A8%81%E8%84%85%E6%87%B2%E7%BD%B0%E9%A6%99%E6%B8%AF+%E4%BF%83%E5%8B%BF%E5%8A%A9%E4%BC%8A%E6%9C%97%E9%81%8B%E6%B2%B9 『本港商務及經濟發展局發言人回應說,香港特區按照中國外交部的指示,全面實施聯合國安理會針對伊朗所施加的限制,不過,安理會並沒有就伊朗出口石油施加任何限制,個別國家單方面制裁,不屬特區履行聯合國安理會所議決制裁的範圍。』或參考 Yiu, C.Y. (2019) Hong Kong Becomes a Battlefield of the US — China Trade War, Medium, Jun 2. https://medium.com/dialogue-and-discourse/hong-kong-becomes-a-battlefield-of-the-us-china-trade-war-a752d3d06933

Written by

ecyY is the Founder of Real Estate Development and Building Research & Information Centre REDBRIC

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store