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US House panel vows to hold Beijing, Hong Kong accountable for transnational repression

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec17’23) – Just hours before the China-patriot government of Hong Kong announced HK$1 million (US$128,000) bounties on five more pro-democracy opposition figures, bringing their total to 13, members of the US House select committee on China have pledged in its final hearing this year on Dec 13 to do all they could to hold Beijing accountable for any cross-border targeting of activists. Those targeted in the bounty list are accused of violating China’s widely criticized, draconian national security law for Hong Kong.

“We will do everything in our power to hold the [Chinese Communist Party] accountable when it violates human rights and silences speech here in America,” the scmp.com Dec 15 quoted Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the top Democrat on the bipartisan panel, as saying.

Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and the committee’s chair, has said: “We lose nothing by putting human rights at the forefront of our agenda.”

The hearing, titled “CCP transnational repression: the Party’s effort to silence and coerce critics overseas”, sought to feature first-hand testimony from alleged victims and generate ideas for legislative action.

The witnesses at the hearing included Anna Kwok of the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council; Jinrui Zhang, a Georgetown University law student; and Sophie Richardson, a former China director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Republican congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin (left) chairs the US House select committee on China. Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois (right) is its ranking member.

Kwok is one of eight opposition figures targeted in a bounty list announced in July by the Hong Kong government. Along with the 12 others now on the list, she is accused of violating the city’s national security law.

Kwok has described receiving online threats before a planned protest at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation APEC) summit last month in San Francisco, where US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in person. She has spoken of being “trapped in this constant fear of being hunted.”

The witnesses have also spoken of efforts by the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to target their relatives in their absence.

Zhang has said his family in the mainland was harassed and threatened by police on four occasions since June as a result of his activities in the US, which included protesting against China’s zero-Covid controls.

He has added that “about a dozen” Chinese students, also living in Washington, had their families back home similarly targeted in the past year.

The lawmakers were stated to have considered several proposals, including one that would revoke the student visas of those who report on their fellow classmates’ activities to foreign governments.

On Dec 14, both the select committee and the Congressional Executive Commission on China denounced the new bounties placed on Hong Kong activists, calling for sanctions against the officials involved.

Earlier, on Dec 12, the commission held a press conference with representatives from the Hong Kong, Uygur, Tibetan and mainland Chinese communities to discuss protesters’ allegation of being assaulted by hundreds of Chinese government-sponsored hooligans during the APEC summit protests.

Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat and co-chair of the commission, earlier this year introduced a bipartisan bill to expand and codify US government responses to transnational repression.

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