Washington, D.C. — In response to the passage of the America COMPETES Act of 2022, a sweeping China-focused bill that encompasses key provisions supporting Hong Kongers, in the House of Representatives today, HKDC issues the following statement.
From HKDC’s Executive Director, Brian Leung:
“I applaud the passage of the America COMPETES Act within hours of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games’ opening ceremony, a facade intended to cover up China’s human rights atrocities. This move reflects the House of Representatives’ commitment to combat China’s model of authoritarian expansionism. The bill takes a comprehensive approach to support Hong Kong’s democracy and freedoms. Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed its importance when she testified at yesterday’s hearing at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China alongside the Convenor of HKDC’s Advisory Board, Nathan Law.”
“I am particularly grateful to Rep. Tom Malinowski and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who both voted in favor of the legislation; it incorporates the bipartisan Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act that they authored in 2020 and have since re-introduced several times. I look forward to the expeditious conferencing of this House bill and its Senate counterpart, the United States Innovation and Competition Act. I urge leaders in both chambers to not only retain the Hong Kong portions of the current text during the reconciliation process ahead but potentially also adopt relevant, additional measures. The U.S. must live up to its promise to support Hong Kong and its tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing political persecution . Offering Hong Kongers protection is an urgent priority in light of the Chinese government’s relentless crackdown.”
Key Hong Kong Provisions in the America COMPETES Act of 2022:
Safe Haven Policies
- Provides Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and refugee status for qualifying Hong Kong residents for 18 months.
- Provides special immigrant status admission for certain priority highly-skilled Hong Kong residents, up to 5,000 per year for five fiscal years.
- Stipulates that Hong Kong will continue to be considered a foreign state separate and apart from the PRC for purposes of the numerical limitations on immigrant visas.
- Directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with other federal agencies, to submit a report detailing the number of Hong Kong residents who have applied for U.S. visas or immigration benefits; the number of approvals, denials, or rejections of applicants for visas or immigration benefits; the number of pending refugee and asylum applications for Hong Kong residents, and the length of time and reason for which such applications have been pending.
- Directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to report on refugee and asylum related matters related to Hong Kong applications, average wait-times, approvals, referrals, denials, and refugee circuit rides to interview populations that would include those from Hong Kong.
Funding and Programs
- Authorizes $10 million for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to promote democracy in Hong Kong.
- Authorizes the Secretary of State to establish a Hong Kong Internet Freedom Program to develop a strategy to bolster internet resiliency and online access in Hong Kong.
- Authorizes the President of the Open Technology Fund to establish a Hong Kong Internet Freedom Program.
- Authorizes $10 million to the Open Technology Fund and $20 million to the DRL’s Office of Internet Freedom Programs.