U.S. Department of State
DAVID R. STILWELL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY
BUREAU OF EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
HONG KONG EXCERPTS
Then there is Hong Kong, which has of course raised some particularly acute concerns in recent months. Hong Kong’s astounding rise to a global center of finance and commerce was predicated on its open society, rule of law, and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. That this rise continued even after Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997 is a result of the assurances China gave to the United Kingdom in the Sino-British Joint Declaration (the “Joint Declaration”); namely, that Hong Kong would maintain a high degree of autonomy and maintain its liberal traditions as reflected in the Hong Kong Basic Law (the “Basic Law”). Preserving this autonomy was also the purpose of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which has shaped U.S. policy toward Hong Kong since.
We believe that the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly—core values that we share with Hong Kong—must be vigorously protected. Hong Kong is governed under Beijing’s “One Country, Two Systems” framework. Protesters in Hong Kong are only asking Beijing to keep its promises made in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. Beijing has responded by repeatedly blaming the U.S. Government for “black hand” tactics and publicly identified U.S. diplomatic personnel, putting them at risk.
China has provided no evidence of a “black hand” behind the protests in Hong Kong, because it doesn’t exist. Hong Kongers took to the streets because Beijing is undermining its own “One Country, Two Systems” framework. As Secretary Pompeo has observed, the protesters are asking that Beijing uphold its commitments under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. And as President Trump has said, we seek a “humane” resolution to the protests. The United States supports peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.