An online petition urging Congress to revoke the U.S. citizenship and visas of Chinese and Hong Kong officials who support a controversial extradition bill has collected over 200,000 signatures in just two days.
The Hong Kong bill, first proposed in February, would allow criminal suspects sought after by the Chinese regime to be extradited to mainland China, where jurisdictions are solely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The proposal has led to widespread concern and massive protests in Hong Kong, as locals fear that the changes would allow the communist regime to charge with impunity its critics, including activists and journalists residing in the city.
Currently, the city’s independent legal system remains in practice despite intensifying encroachments from Beijing since 1997, when the city’s sovereignty reverted from British to Chinese rule.
The petition was posted onto a section of the White House website called “We the People,” which allows people to create petitions, sign petitions, and potentially receive a response from the federal government if they amass 100,000 signatures within 30 days.
The Hong Kong petition, started on June 11 by a user named M.W., well surpassed the threshold in just two days.
The petition drew attention to the potential risk of American expatriates residing in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China—a concern also cited by U.S. officials in public statements.
It then referenced the Immigration and Nationality Act, which includes provisions barring foreign officials and their family members from entering the United States if they participated in or abetted “serious violations of human rights.”
“We urge Congress to revoke the U.S. citizenships and visas of the Hong Kong and China officials who are in support of this bill,” the petition read.
In a June 11 statement, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed concerns over the endangerment of human rights posed by the bill, to both Hong Kongers and American expatriates currently residing in the global financial center.
“This legislation would legitimize and legalize the kidnapping of businessmen, booksellers and anyone that China disagrees with, and imperils the safety of the 85,000 Americans living in Hong Kong,” the statement read.
On June 13, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jim Risch (R-ID) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which aims to “reaffirm U.S. commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law at a time when Hong Kong’s autonomy is under assault by interference from the Chinese government and Communist Party,” according to a press release from Rubio’s office on Thursday.
Rubio had introduced a similar bill in 2017 after Hong Kong booksellers who sold titles critical of the Chinese leadership were abducted and later detained in mainland China.
“I am proud to re-introduce legislation that places the U.S. firmly on the side of human rights and democracy and against those who would erode the freedoms and autonomy guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong, freedoms that have made the city a prosperous global commercial hub governed by the rule of law,” Rubio said.