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US Lawmakers, Hong Kong Exiles Call for Release of ‘Hong Kong 47’ Defendants

The “Democrats Primary Election Case” (Hong Kong 47 case) has been on trial for about 20 days, and most defendants have been on remand for more than two years. The U.S. House of Representatives “Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and Chinese Communist Party” held a hearing on Feb. 28 to address the Hong Kong situation.

Committee Chairman and Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher met with reporters together with many Hong Kong democrats in exile, criticizing the CCP for threatening global democracy and human rights and calling for the release of the “Hong Kong 47” defendants.

In his speech, Mike Gallagher started by quoting one verse made in prison in 2017 from Joshua Wong Chi-fung, one of the defendants in the case: “Our bodies are held capped, but our pursuit of freedom cannot be contained.”

Gallagher criticized the “National Security Law (NSL),” drafted and implemented without consultation, and has constantly threatened people’s freedom. He also questioned the CCP’s claim that the NSL was designed to protect Hong Kong’s security, but in fact, violated and undermined the “One Country, Two Systems” and violated the CCP’s promise and commitment to the international community.

Gallagher mentioned that the “Hong Kong 47” defendants held just an unofficial primary election vote ahead of the Legislative Council election, but it was “already too much” for the CCP. The CCP accepts no more than the state’s preferences; all others must subside.

He described the defendants as including politicians, journalists, and academics. If they receive the maximum sentence, they may die in prison, and criticized this as not an act of an open society.

Gallagher said that members of Congress have written to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, imploring him to ask the Hong Kong government to release all political prisoners and revoke the privileges enjoyed by Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Offices in the United States.

Activist: All Countries Should Jointly Respond to the CCP Threat

Sunny Cheung Kwan-yang, one of the pro-democracy primary candidates who are now in exile, pointed out at the press conference that the situation in Hong Kong is of great concern to the future of freedom and human rights worldwide.

He appealed to world leaders not to trust the CCP in its commitment to abide by rules and order. Because it is all too obvious Xi Jinping, the CCP leader’s repeated rhetoric emphasizes its use of force and evil means to achieve its goals.

Cheung mentioned that some of the defendants in the “Hong Kong 47” case had been remanded for more than 700 days. Still, the prosecution has yet to provide full evidence, reflecting that once the CCP is determined to be tough, it will use all means to eliminate political opponents in Hong Kong, including deploying spies to infiltrate the opposition camp.

Therefore, he believes the United States should no longer trust the CCP. The spy balloon incident is a good example. What happened in Hong Kong will also occur in the United States.

Cheung believes that the primary election participants just wanted a fair opportunity to decide which candidates should participate in the Legislative Council (Legco) election and hence give them a better chance to win a majority.

But because the CCP could not tolerate it, leaders of the democrats were arrested to prevent them from forming a majority in Legco. The CCP only believes in its victory, which is never a win-win situation. It will take the same stance on issues against Taiwan and the United States, said Cheung.

Cheung also described that the international community has not fully recognized the real threat from the CCP and that it is not enough for the United States to impose sanctions on the CCP and Hong Kong officials.

The CCP believes that it has won the case of Hong Kong. He called upon all governments worldwide to unite to deal with the threat from the CCP and let the latter know there would always be consequences for destroying Hong Kong’s civil society.

Over 100 Minors Imprisoned

Frances Hui Wing-ting, a Hong Kong social activist in exile, is currently serving as the policy and advocacy director of the “Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong.” During the press conference, she criticized the CCP as the world’s most significant threat to democracy and human rights. She recalled that she grew up in Hong Kong.

At that time, the government still tolerated a multitude of different opinions. Schools would teach freedom of speech and how the Basic Law protects us. At 14, she joined Scholarism to oppose brainwashing national education in schools and began participating in the social movement.

She said that during the 2019 Anti-Extradition Movement, she witnessed one 9-year-old boy confronting the police on the front line of the demonstration. More than 100 minors under 18 are remanded for social movement cases, the youngest of whom is only 13, and the longest sentence put down was five years in prison.

US Congressman Calls for Closure of HK Economic and Trade Offices

At the first hearing of the “Special Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the CCP,” Mike Gallagher called upon the U.S. government to close the three Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in the United States. He believed they were functioning more like an extension of the CCP’s overseas surveillance mechanism.

He warned that this is not a game of “courtesy tennis” but an existential struggle about life in the rest of the 21st century, with the most basic freedoms at stake.

At the hearing, Frances Hui urged the United States to step up its efforts to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedom and to hold the CCP and the Hong Kong government accountable.

Congressional Report Urges Again Sanctions on DoJ Prosecutors

On July 12, 2022, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) published a report recommending that a total of 16 persons be sanctioned, including Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok, Director of Public Prosecutions Maggie Yang Mei-kei, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Chan Shuk-man.

The report also criticizes the growing number of political prisoners in Hong Kong, the role of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions in expanding arbitrary detention, the erosion of the rule of law and human rights in Hong Kong, and recommends action by the United States and the international community.

On Feb. 28, the CECC issued another statement calling on the Hong Kong government to immediately withdraw the charges against the accused in the “Hong Kong 47” case.

CECC once again asked U.S. President Joe Biden to sanction the DoJ members involved in prosecuting the democrats, including the Director of Public Prosecutions Maggie Yang Mei-kei, Acting Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Laura Ng Shuk-kuen, Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Chau Tin-hang, and Acting Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Andy Lo Tin-wai.

The CECC was established in October 2000 to study and monitor the human rights situation and the development of the rule of law in China and is required to submit a report to Congress and the President each year.

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