Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a new determination that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from mainland China. The determination, which follows a new anti-democratic law cracking down on Hong Kong, signals the potential end of Hong Kong’s special trading status with the United States.
“The United States had little choice but to make this determination after the Chinese government’s latest brazen assault on Hong Kong’s political autonomy. It is a sad day for democracy and freedom when we must accept the truth that China has broken the terms of the Sino-British agreement and Hong Kong no longer has meaningful autonomous status separate from mainland China.
“Today’s determination will require changes in how the United States treats Hong Kong economically that will have significant repercussions for Hong Kong’s economy and prosperity, against the backdrop of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. This is a cruel and entirely avoidable wound that the Chinese central government has inflicted upon Hong Kong. Good people in Hong Kong, including some who have been the strongest and most inspirational champions for democracy, will suffer from the economic fallout of this action by Beijing.
“President Xi should reverse course on this assault against Hong Kong’s freedoms, abandon the draft national security law, and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy before irreparable damage has been done.
“I will continue to do everything I can to stand with Hong Kong’s brave champions of political freedom. I will keep pressing President Trump to speak out and to show the Chinese government that he is serious about human rights, not just his own personal trade priorities or blaming the pandemic on China. And I will keep raising my voice at every turn as regimes around the globe attempt to use the cover of a pandemic to suppress human rights and freedom. Whenever authoritarians seek to suppress democracy and fundamental rights, we must shine a light on those abuses and expose them—and use every tool in our diplomatic arsenal to fight back.”
Senator Merkley has been a consistent advocate for supporting freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. Last fall, Senator Merkley successfully passed legislation to ban the export of crowd control munitions to Hong Kong in an effort to help protect peaceful protesters during the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations. Earlier this month, Senator Merkley teamed up with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in a bipartisan effort to press the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for a strategy to protect human rights around the globe, including in Hong Kong, during the coronavirus pandemic.