The Chinese government imposed sanctions on 11 Americans, which included legislators and leaders of IFEX members Human Rights Watch and Freedom House for their advocacy on Hong Kong's democratic rights.
This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 10 August 2020.
In response to the arrest of Hong Kong media owner Jimmy Lai and journalists and Beijing’s announcement of sanctions against 11 Americans – including members of Congress and Freedom House’s president – for their advocacy on Hong Kong, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The sanctions imposed on me and others by the Chinese Communist Party are simple retaliation for well-placed US sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Beijing’s announcement does nothing to distract from its ongoing violations of the rule of law and repression of the Hong Kong people. Today’s unconscionable arrest of independent media owner Jimmy Lai and other journalists, part of a wave of detentions under the new National Security Law, once again demonstrates that the concerns raised about this law were entirely justified.”
“Apparently our speaking out on behalf of democracy and rule of law in Hong Kong has touched a nerve with the CCP authorities,” Abramowitz added. “I am grateful for the work Freedom House and others named in this announcement have done to stand with the people of Hong Kong. We are very proud to be named with other strong defenders of freedom.”
“The inconvenience of Beijing’s sanctions pale in comparison to the sacrifices of those seeking to defend their rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy. There is bitter irony in the fact that the US imposed sanctions on officials violating rights in Hong Kong, while Beijing is imposing them on individuals seeking to uphold rights in Hong Kong. We again urge CCP and Hong Kong officials to follow the Basic Law, and we continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong.”
On August 10, authorities in Hong Kong arrested Jimmy Lai, owner of the prodemocracy newspaper Apple Daily, and raided the outlet’s offices to collect “evidence.” Several other arrests were reported.
On the same day, the Chinese government announced unspecified sanctions against 11 Americans for their “bad behavior” regarding Hong Kong. They included Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and Pat Toomey; Congressman Chris Smith; and leaders of the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House. The move followed the imposition of US sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong government officials on August 7.
Hong Kong is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2020. China is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019. Freedom House is also following the deteriorating conditions in Hong Kong and their global implications via its monthly China Media Bulletin.