Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America (Hong Kong Excerpts)

U.S. Department of State

Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America


DECEMBER 2, 2019


SENATOR MCCONNELL: Well, we thought we’d have a little discussion here, and I think a good place to start is Hong Kong. Back in 1992, I introduced a little bill called the Hong Kong Policy Act. This was five years before the handover back to the Chinese from the British. Not a very important bill certainly in this country, but it was noticed out there because it required the State Department to make an annual report about whether the Chinese after the handover were sticking to the deal they made with the British, which is supposed to hold up for 50 years. Well, we’ve certainly witnessed a lot of unrest in Hong Kong here, and just the other day we did an update of the Hong Kong Policy Act. It passed overwhelming in the House and Senate, and President Trump signed it.

It strikes me, Mr. Secretary, that this could be President Xi’s worst nightmare, that this view that being able to express yourself and maybe being able to elect your own leaders would metastasize into the mainland. What is your take on what’s going on in Hong Kong and the Chinese Government’s reaction to it?

SECRETARY POMPEO: Leader McConnell, you’ve been at this issue in Hong Kong for an awfully long time, and thanks for handing me the requirement to certify. Now that’s great, put it in my lap. (Laughter.) Deeply appreciative.

Look, the issue in Hong Kong is pretty straightforward. I think you articulated it pretty well. You have a people that is desirous of having the Chinese Communist Party live up to the promise that it made back in 1997. It’s a ratified treaty that sits at the United Nations. They talked about having one country, but two systems and their obligation to honor that. And our efforts are to make sure that those weren’t empty promises that were made to the people of Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Party owes it to those people to live up to those commitments that they made, and you see the people of Hong Kong demanding that. You see American flags flying at these protests. They want what you all want, what our next generation of Americans want: They want freedom, the chance to raise their families, to practice their faith in the way that they want. Those are – the commitment to permitting that was made by the Chinese Communist Party. It was to go for 50 years. We still have decades left in that, and the United States stands firmly in support of asking the Chinese leadership to honor that commitment, asking everyone involved in the political process there to do so without violence, and to find a resolution to this that honors the one country, two system policy that the Chinese leadership signed up for.