By Ted Yoho
Mass civilian protests in Hong Kong are beginning to shed light on the deterioration of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence outside of mainland China.
Rising resentment in Hong Kong is not simply a result of the ill-fated extradition law championed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, but the continued encroachment on freedom and liberties by President Xi Jinping and the CCP.
When Great Britain agreed to cede Hong Kong to China in 1997, the agreement that Hong Kong would remain an autonomous, self-governing region for the next 50 years was made in good faith between the respective governments. More importantly, this Joint Declaration is an international bi-lateral treaty and was registered by both governments at the United Nations.
The CCP has often implied that this treaty is no longer valid, which is simply not the case.
As the agreement states, Hong Kong is to “enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs,” effective until June 30, 2047. This mutual understanding is the basis of the “one country, two systems,” arrangement under which Hong Kong now operates.
Despite this agreement, leaders in Beijing have continued their high-intensity political pressure campaign to subdue dissent within Hong Kong, which has inadvertently emboldened the people of Hong Kong to stand up against Beijing.
Now, 22 years into the agreement, the CCP has finally pushed too far. By proxy, Chief Executive Lam, who is widely regarded as being handpicked by Beijing, has pushed to pass an extradition bill that would allow individuals arrested in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China for trial.
This bill has exposed deep concerns over the Hong Kong government’s legitimacy. It was so unpopular that an estimated one quarter of the 7.3 million Hong Kong residents took to the streets on June 16 to oppose the legislation.
In response to this unrest the CCP, through an act of ignorance, has cast blame on the United States and other democratic nations for “interfering” in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and encouraging mass civilian protests.
This extradition law does not only affect the people of Hong Kong but would also apply to US citizens – making this anything but ‘internal’. Regardless of falsities that are streaming out of Chinese state media, it is not the actions of the US, or any other nation, that have spurred mass unrest in Hong Kong, but Beijing’s heavy hand over the region.
I am proud of the people of Hong Kong for standing up for their autonomy and freedoms and speaking out against the CCP’s ill intentions. As residents of Hong Kong continue to protest at the extradition bill orchestrated by Beijing, they bring attention to what the CCP’s true intent is: complete autocratic control of Hong Kong. Not after 2047, but as soon as possible.
President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party do not respect freedom. They will continue to pay a heavy price for overextending their despotic and repressive regime.
The CCP will continue to blame Western nations for standing with the people of Hong Kong, as the party’s biggest fear is freedom in its own backyard. I stand with Hong Kong, a region where the past is not white-washed, where people are free to worship and express themselves as they see fit, and where each individual can control their own destiny.
Rep. Ted S. Yoho (R-FL) Lead Republican for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation