Senator Hawley Leads Legislation to Combat Beijing’s Suppression of Hongkongers’ Rights

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), along with U.S. Senators Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), introduced the Hong Kong Be Water Act to combat Beijing’s steady erosion of Hongkongers’ basic liberties. The Hong Kong Be Water Act condemns the Chinese Communist Party for violations of Hongkongers’ freedoms of speech, assembly, and demonstration — rights that Beijing previously agreed to uphold. It also calls for tough new sanctions against the government officials and others responsible for the violations.

Senator Hawley, who recently visited Hong Kong to witness the pro-democracy protests firsthand, said, “During my recent visit to Hong Kong I was alarmed by how quickly the situation has deteriorated. Protesters told me it was important to ‘be water’ — meaning, move quickly and be fluid when confronted by police. Make no mistake about it: Hong Kong is rapidly becoming a police state. We must send a signal to the world that the United States will stand with Hongkongers as they stand up to the Chinese Communist Party.”

Senator Rick Scott said, “During my trip to Hong Kong earlier this month, I met with protesters who are fighting to regain the freedom they were promised by Communist China. I heard horrible stories of police brutality, threats, and intimidation. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. I’m proud to sponsor the Hong Kong Be Water Act as we stand with the brave Hong Kongers fighting for freedom and basic human rights that are being suppressed by Communist China.”

The Hong Kong Be Water Act does the following: 

  1. Condemns the Government of the People’s Republic of China for violating its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
  2. Calls for imposing Global Magnitsky sanctions against the Hong Kong and Chinese government officials – and those operating on behalf of or in cooperation with the same – responsible for suppressing or facilitating the suppression of Hongkongers’ freedoms of speech, association, assembly, procession, and demonstration.
  3. Calls for freezing the assets of Chinese nationals and state-owned enterprises who have contributed to the suppression of Hongkongers’ freedoms of speech, association, assembly, procession, and demonstration.

To view a one pager on the Hong Kong Be Water Act, click here. Bill text can be accessed here.

Yesterday Senator Hawley published an op-ed in Fox News where he called on American companies doing business in China to “to show a little American independence and tell Beijing where to step off.”

Senator Hawley also recently gave a speech on the Senate floor where he called for passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, of which he is an original cosponsor.