Today, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley delivered a speech on the Senate floor in support of the people of Hong Kong as they stand up against Beijing’s oppression.
Senator Hawley’s speech comes after he joined pro-democracy protestors in the streets of Hong Kong and called for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign. He has also been critical of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, LeBron James, and Apple CEO Tim Cook for kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party.
Remarks as delivered:
As we gather today here in peace and safety in this quiet chamber, we must remember that there is a city half a world away that is struggling to survive. A city that is fighting for human rights and human liberty. A city that is a solitary pinpoint of light on a continent of authoritarianism. A city called Hong Kong. The need there is urgent and the hour there is late and it is time for America to act.
And I know this because I've been there. I've been there myself. I have seen it, Mr. President. I have been to Hong Kong. I have been to the streets of Hong Kong. I have seen the protesters marching in support of, in defense of their basic human rights. I have seen them demonstrating for their basic human liberties. I have seen them confronting the police with their tactics of brutality and oppression.
And it makes me think, Mr. President, that sometimes in the course of history, the fate of one city defines the challenge of an entire generation. Fifty years ago that city was Berlin. Today that city is Hong Kong, and the situation there is critical because Hong Kong is sliding towards becoming a police state.
Make no mistake, Beijing wants to impose its will on Hong Kong, it wants to silence dissent in Hong Kong. It wants to steamroll Hong Kong, just as it wants to steamroll all of its neighbors in the region, just as it wants to control the region, and just as it wants ultimately to control the entire international system. And we know what's at stake in this country because we've gotten all too familiar with Beijing's tactics.
We've seen what Beijing has tried to do to this country for decades now. They have stolen our jobs. They have stolen our technologies. They have tried to build and are building their military on the backs of our middle class and their aims are expansionist and their aims are domination and their aims are not compatible with the security or the prosperity of this country. And that's why what is happening in Hong Kong today is so important and the fight there is so significant.
Will a totalitarian China, a totalitarian Beijing, will they be allowed to dominate the city of Hong Kong? To silence it? And then to turn to the region as a whole?
You know, let's review what's actually happening there in the streets of Hong Kong. This didn't start with the people of Hong Kong. This started with Beijing. This started with Beijing and its puppet government, its puppet chief executive in Hong Kong, attempting to revoke the rights of Hongkonger's–– the rights, by the way, that Beijing promised to the people of that city in 1984 and again in 1997––trying to revoke those rights by bringing in a bill for extradition of Hong Kong citizens and Hong Kong residents to mainland China to be tried in China's courts where there is no due process, where there are no basic guaranteed liberties, where there is no recourse. This was Beijing's plan and that would have affected not just the citizens of Hong Kong, but the residents there including over 80,000 Americans who are currently residents in the city. And the people of Hong Kong said no.
Mr. President, on the 12th of July, just a few days after Beijing put forward, this extradition bill, 2 million Hong Kong residents, 2 million took to the streets in peaceful protests. This is a city of seven and a half million, two million on the streets on the 12th of July. And when the Hong Kong government, the Beijing controlled government refused to back down the people of Hong Kong refused to be silenced, and for months now, months on in 20 weeks and more, the people of Hong Kong have been taking to the streets protesting, seeking to vindicate their rights and they've been doing it in the face of escalating opposition.
The Hong Kong government, on orders no doubt from Beijing, has sought to deny the protesters permits to gather peacefully. They have sought to deny them the right to cover their faces–– because let's not forget China is a surveillance state––and the persecution and the retribution against protesters is real and it is constant.
Now they are talking about a potential curfew. They're shutting down subway stations early so protesters can't get from one place to another. They've used violent tactics to put down the protests, tear gas and beatings and die blasted at protesters, and China continues to escalate. Beijing continues to escalate the situation, turning the screws on Hong Kong, taking away the rights and liberties of the people there. Hong Kong's demands are not outlandish, Mr. President, they are asking for what they were promised.
They were promised in 1984 by the government of Beijing and a duly ratified international treaty. They were promised the right to assemble, the right peacefully to gather and protest. They were promised the right to vote and to be able to choose their own government. They were promised the right to speak openly, and they were promised the right to worship. And those are the rights that the people of Hong Kong seek to vindicate today. And those are the rights, Mr. President that Beijing is attempting to strip from this city as we stand here today in this chamber.
You know the people of Hong Kong, they have an expression I found. The protesters say that they're going to be like water. They say, “Be water,” and some have actually referred to this as a water movement. They mean be fluid, be reactive, adjust to the situation, and I just have to say having been there myself having been to the streets, having seen the protesters having met with them and talked with them, their courage and their bravery under pressure is really something to behold. It is an inspiration to me, Mr. President. And I think it should be an inspiration to all of us. And their love of liberty––you never love something more than when it's threatened––their love of liberty is really extraordinary.
I want to share something that the reverend Chu Yiu-ming said about liberty about democracy. He says it so beautifully. These are his words: “We strive for democracy because democracy strives for freedom and equality and universal love. Political freedom is more than loyalty to a state. Political freedom professes human dignity. Every single person living in a community possesses unique potentials and unique powers capable of making a unique contribution to society.”
That's extraordinary and he's exactly right, and Hongkonger's know it, and that's what they're standing for, and that's what they're fighting for.
And, Mr. President, the people of Hong Kong deserve our support, and they are depending on our support.
And this is why it is time for this body to act. It is time to take up and pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The time for debate is over. The time for delay has passed.
It is time now to stand with the people of Hong Kong and to send a signal to the world that the United States will stand with freedom-loving peoples, that the United States will stand up to Beijing, that the United States will not permit China to dominate its neighbors and its region and the world. And so it is time for this body to act and to act now. And it is time to do more and that is why I will soon be introducing further measures to help support the people of Hong Kong.
I will be calling for the imposition of global Magnitsky sanctions on individuals and business entities that abet Beijing in its suppression of the freedoms of speech and assembly that rightfully belong to the people of Hong Kong.
And I would just say to those corporations doing business in China, to those multinational corporate entities and organizations like the NBA, that it is time for you to take a stand as well. It is time for you to show a little backbone. It is time for you to show some independence. You may be multinational corporations who do business everywhere in the world, but remember that you are based here in this country. Remember––the NBA should––that they are an American organization. These companies need to remember that they are American entities, and it's time to show a little American independence.
And so when Beijing tries to use threats of coercion, threats of market access, to get the NBA to censor, to get corporations like Apple to censor, it’s time for these corporations to stand up and say, “We are not going to participate, we are not going to become part of the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda arm.”
It's time for these companies to remember where their loyalties actually lie.
And I have to say, Mr. President, for too long now, for too many years now, we've seen too many of these companies––and these same corporate executives who make money hand over fist in China––we've seen them happily send our jobs to China. We've seen them happily outsource our work to China, and now they want to import censorship into this country from China. Well, no, thank you. And it's time that they were open about what it is that they're doing, and it's time that they stood up to Beijing and said, “No further.”
I want to say again, Mr. President, that the situation in Hong Kong is urgent and the people of Hong Kong are looking to the United States and to other freedom-loving peoples around the world for support and for strength.
And it is time that we sent them the message––and that we called on our allies to do the same––that we must stand with Hong Kong because our own security and our own prosperity and our own ideals are at stake there.
I think finally of the words of John Quincy, Adams, who I'll paraphrase, he said, “Wherever the standard of freedom is unfurled, there will be America's prayers, there will be America's benedictions, there will be America's heart.” And today Mr. President, there needs to be America's Voice.