An international group of think tanks from 39 countries has signed a letter in support of the Hong Kong people and condemning the actions of the Chinese Communist Party for imposing a draconian national security law on the city.
“We stand with the people of Hong Kong as they attempt to protect their freedoms and rights and believe a strong global response is critical,” says the letter, signed by member organizations of the Economic Freedom of the World Network, which is led by Canada’s Fraser Institute.
The law, which is in direct violation of the “one nation, two systems” principle, criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment.
Released on July 3, the letter calls for a “global response” to address the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong.
“This is a global tragedy,” Fred McMahon, the Dr. Michael A. Walker Chair of Economic Freedom research at the Fraser Institute, told The Epoch Times.
“It makes a lie of the CPC’s [Communist Party of China] agreement to respect the one country, two systems agreement. It tells everyone who hasn’t already gotten the message that any treaty with the CPC is worthless.”
On July 1, a day after the law came into effect, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong to demonstrate against it, with police arresting around 370. Ten were arrested on suspicion of violating the new law.
“With this letter, we support the people of Hong Kong as they fight to preserve the right and freedoms that made Hong Kong one of the most prosperous places on the planet,” McMahon said.
‘A Global Fight’
During a congressional hearing on July 1, Hong Kong democracy activists told U.S. officials that the world must unite in confronting an authoritarian Beijing, otherwise the regime would be emboldened to take more aggressive actions further out from its shores.
“We are actually facing a global fight,” Nathan Law, a prominent Hong Kong activist currently studying at Yale University, said at the House foreign affairs committee hearing, just hours after Hong Kong police began making arrests of protesters under the new law.
“We should hold hands together and to suppress these authoritarian expansionists,” he said, adding that “fighting for democracy” in Hong Kong is “helping the world preserve its democracy and its values.”
McMahon said Canada should do more to support Hongkongers’ fight for freedom, such as following the United States to impose sanctions on China.
“Canada has appropriately condemned the law but it seems hesitant to take any action for fear of what the CPC will do to Canadians [Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor] now held hostage,” he said.
“Canada has gotten nowhere with not much of a bark and no bite. The CPC does not respond to weakness.”
The letter notes that since the Second World War, Hong Kong has become one of the most prosperous, entrepreneurial, and freest places on earth and must be preserved.
McMahon applauded the move by the United States to eliminate Hong Kong’s special trade status, and said specific actions like this, rather than simple words of condemnation, are most effective in curtailing the Beijing regime.
“Democratic nations should immediately start procedures to expel China from the World Trade Organization. The CPC routinely violates WTO rules, just like it has violated its agreement on Hong Kong,” he said.
“Expelling China would not only send a strong message but help right the world trading system.”
On July 1, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill imposing sanctions on banks doing business with Chinese officials involved in the implementation of the national security law.
The U.S. Senate last week unanimously approved a companion bill, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals or companies that back efforts by China to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy, also including secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone found to be backing any crackdown on the territory’s autonomy.
McMahon said the new law puts Hong Kong’s freedom “under attack.”
“This freedom allowed the people of Hong Kong to build immense prosperity among many other huge achievements, including creating tolerant city of many ethnicities, languages, and religions,” he said.
“The world must stand with the people of Hong Kong.”
Eva Fu contributed to this report.