Stand With Hong Kong

Human rights bill needs student support

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Illustration by Ry X

For the past 207 days, Hong Kong residents have protested against China’s authoritarian regime.

The people of Hong Kong have called on the U.S. for assistance in reaffirming the “one country, two systems” policy. Britain gave ownership of Hong Kong to China in 1997, resulting in the two regions maintaining different political systems. Hong Kong protestors have used the U.S. flag and national anthem as symbols of freedom. These references to the U.S. come after the introduction of a potentially influential bill in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R-New Jersey) introduced House Res. 3289, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, on June 13. Speakers at an Oct. 7 pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong explicitly called on U.S. senators to vote for H.R. 3289.

In response, UC Davis students took action by writing and presenting letters, collecting signatures in their quad and being active on social media. More students must follow suit.

UC Davis students presented their letters to Congressman John Garamendi (D-California) at a town hall meeting on Oct. 14. Garamendi publicly supported the Hong Kong protestors for the first time at the meeting, saying he would side with them when Congress votes on the bill. 

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3289 on Oct. 15. Increased pressure from the UCs could help the bill pass the Senate. 

In today’s socioeconomic and political climate, we have a responsibility to assert our right to peaceably assemble and stand up for those whose human rights have been violated. Whether it’s here, Venezuela, Chile, France or Hong Kong, governments should be defending freedom and human rights. 

Hong Kong isn’t projected to integrate with China’s political system for 28 years. Citizens enjoy civil liberties not afforded to residents of mainland China, such as a free press, an unrestrained judicial system and freedom of assembly. Any violation of these liberties is an infringement of civil rights. 

The protests in Hong Kong erupted due to a proposed bill that would’ve allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. The Hong Kong extradition bill has been repealed thanks to relentless protesters, but four of their demands haven’t been satisfied — one of which is an inquiry into Hong Kong police departments run by an independent commission.

H.R. 3289 still has to go through the Senate and White House in order to become law, but like UC Davis, we must  voice support for the bill. While the Chinese government tries to blur the line drawn by the “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong’s people resolve to keep it in focus. 

To reaffirm the U.S.’s commitment to democracy, the remaining UCs should follow UC Davis’s lead and collect signatures, take to social media, hold events in support of Hong Kong and write to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala  Harris and the White House to turn this bill into law.