U.S. Department of State
REMARKS TO THE PRESS
MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE
PRESS BRIEFING ROOM
JULY 1, 2020
HONG KONG EXCERPTS
Now, turning to the substance of my remarks today, and I want to talk about one of the world’s most unfree countries.
Yesterday the Chinese Communist Party implemented its draconian national security law on Hong Kong, in violation of commitments that it made to the Hong Kong people and to the United Kingdom, in a UN-registered treaty – and in contravention of Hong Kongers’ human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Free Hong Kong was one of the world’s most stable, prosperous, and dynamic cities. Now it will be just another communist-run city, where its people will be subject to the party elite’s whims. It’s sad.
Indeed, this is already happening. Security forces are already rounding up Hong Kongers for daring to speak and think freely. The rule of law has been eviscerated. And as always, the Chinese Communist Party fears its own people more than anything else.
The United States is deeply concerned about the law’s sweeping provisions and the safety of everyone living in the territory, including Americans.
Article 38 of the new law also purports to apply to offenses committed outside of Hong Kong by non-residents of Hong Kong, and this likely includes Americans. This is outrageous and an affront to all nations.
On Friday, we implemented visa restrictions on those responsible for the Hong Kong crackdown. On Monday, we announced that we would end defense equipment and dual-use technology exports of U.S. origin going to the territory.
We will continue to implement President Trump’s directive to end Hong Kong’s special status.
QUESTION: Yes. Thank you, Morgan. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. My question is: You just mentioned about the report written by Dr. Adrian Zenz regarding the forced sterilization and abortion of the Uyghur population there by China, assimilating the Uyghur people. In the report, actually, Dr. Zenz – he presented compelling evidence that the Chinese Government’s severe human rights violation of the Uyghur people meet the criteria of genocide as defined by the UN Convention on Genocide. And also, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten called China’s policy toward the Uyghurs as also genocide. In addition to that, the European Parliament Chair Reinhard Butikofer and his first Vice-Chair Evelyne Gebhardt, in their joint statement yesterday, also said their report further corroborate the assessment that we may be witnessing the implementation of genocide. I know you also issued a statement regarding this report. So do you believe China is committing genocide towards the Uyghur people?
SECRETARY POMPEO: The United States has taken the strongest action of any nation in the world to protect the human rights of all Chinese people, including the Uyghur people. We’ll continue to do that. I hope our European allies, allies in the region will take this seriously. We hope other Muslim nations will take this seriously as well and respond in a way that has the opportunity to protect those people’s human rights.
We’ll evaluate how we think about the Chinese actions and what it is we ought to call them. We’ve worked closely with Congress to pass legislation – legislation that, if I recall correctly, passed nearly unanimously on Capitol Hill. President signed that legislation. The United States takes seriously our obligation to preserve human rights, the human rights of the people in China. We’ll continue to do that and we’re constantly evaluating those actions against the legal norms and standards for the world.
QUESTION: Given all that you just laid out about the threat from Russia, is now the time to be bringing Russia back into the G7?
And if I may on Hong Kong, obviously, China has passed the national security law, and the punitive measures that have been taken so far don’t appear to have prevented them from taking these actions. So how far is the U.S. willing to go, and are you willing to take the mandatory actions laid out – or mandatory sanctions laid out in the Hong Kong Autonomy Act?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, if they’re mandatory, we’ll do it. We always comply with the law here at the State Department, right? It’s what we do. And so we will absolutely implement those laws both consistent with the letter and the spirit of what those statutes require. So we will certainly do that. And there is more work to do for sure, but in the end, in the end, General Secretary Xi gets to make the decision about whether he wants to move his nation closer to something that is disconnected from the world in the most fundamental ways.
They talk about – when I was in Honolulu, they talk about wanting to be good stewards, international players that comply with multilateral obligations. But when you’re violating citizens’ most fundamental freedoms, we should look to your actions, not to your words. And so that’s what we will continue to do. We’ll continue to do all the things that we can. And importantly, we will continue to build out a global coalition that understands the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party threat places on freedom-loving peoples all across the world. This isn’t a U.S-China challenge. This is a challenge that is between freedom and authoritarianism. And so long as we keep that foremost in our minds, I’m confident that the freedom-loving peoples of the world will prevail.
QUESTION: On Hong Kong, in your opening remarks you called it now, after the security law was imposed, just another city subjected to the CCP’s whims. Is Hong Kong lost? And how far is this administration willing to go to try to prevent that or to try to bring the situation back to where it once was?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, whether it’s lost or not is entirely dependent upon the decisions that General Secretary Xi makes. And when you say “lost,” you mean has it lost its freedoms, is it no longer an autonomous place. I signed a certification a couple weeks back now that suggested that it was not. I suppose these things are always reversible. The actions of the last 48 hours suggest that the Chinese Government – at least at this point, the Chinese Communist Party has no intention of reversing that trend. And as for how far we’ll go, I’ll just repeat what the President said. He wants to ensure, with a handful of exceptions, that Hong Kong is treated just like mainland China because that’s the way that General Secretary Xi has chosen to treat that place as well.