U.S. Department of State
Department Press Briefing – March 31, 2021
NED PRICE, DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON
MARCH 31, 2021
HONG KONG EXCERPTS
As you may have seen in the Secretary’s recent statement, the Department of State is required by law to submit the Hong Kong Policy Act report and accompanying certification to Congress annually.
This year’s report details the actions taken by PRC and Hong Kong authorities to further erode Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and freedoms during the reporting period, which entailed June 2020 to February of 2021. Based on the report’s findings, the Secretary has certified to Congress that Hong Kong does not warrant treatment under U.S. law in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1st of 1997 – the date, of course, of the handover from the UK to the PRC.
Today, therefore, we submitted the Hong Kong Policy Act report to Congress and certified for the second time that Hong Kong does not warrant differential treatment to the PRC under U.S. law because of the PRC and Hong Kong actions taken to dismantle Hong Kong’s autonomy.
We also want to take this opportunity to strongly condemn the actions taken on March 30th by the PRC National People’s Congress Standing Committee to further erode political participation and representation in Hong Kong. We are also deeply concerned by the delay of the September Legislative Council elections for the second time.
These changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system defy the will of the people in Hong Kong, deny Hong Kongers a voice in their own governance. The changes, which will establish a committee to vet candidates for office based solely on their loyalty to Beijing and diminish the proportion of directly-elected members of the Legislative Council, will severely curtail meaningful pluralism and representative governance in Hong Kong. These changes are inconsistent with Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which states that universal suffrage is the ultimate objective for the people in Hong Kong.
The United States stands united with our allies and partners in speaking out against the human rights and freedoms – speaking out for the human rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers, and we call on the PRC to uphold its international obligations and commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The voices of the people in Hong Kong must be heard and the Legislative Council elections should proceed in a free and fair manner that allows candidates to run for election irrespective of their political views.