Human Rights

US to welcome Hong Kong residents crushed by Beijing authoritarianism

Salaam Times and AFP

Police officers prepare to search civilians inside a cordon area during a celebration of China's National Day in Hong Kong on October 1. [May JAMES / AFP]

Police officers prepare to search civilians inside a cordon area during a celebration of China's National Day in Hong Kong on October 1. [May JAMES / AFP]

WASHINGTON -- The US House of Representatives voted Monday (December 7) to welcome Hong Kong residents to live temporarily in the United States, vowing to be a beacon for rights as China clamps down in the territory.

The legislative body moved to issue so-called Temporary Protected Status for five years to Hong Kong residents, meaning that residents of the financial hub will have the right to work in the United States and will not be subject to deportation.

The initiative must still be approved by the US upper chamber, the Senate, but it enjoys support across party lines.

"The best way to win against a dictatorship is to pit the strength of our system against the weakness of theirs, to hold up the glaring contrast between our free, open and self-confident democracy against the weakness of the oppressive, closed and fearful system that the Communist Party has imposed on the Chinese people, including now in Hong Kong," said Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat who sponsored the Hong Kong bill.

"It's actually much more than a humanitarian gesture -- it's one of the best ways to deter China from crushing Hong Kong," he added.

The Chinese regime in June imposed a tough new security law that criminalises dissent in Hong Kong. Since then, authorities have arrested and jailed young activists who expressed their views and have disqualified pro-democracy lawmakers in the city's legislature.

'Greatest threat' to freedom and democracy worldwide

The latest news comes after multiple US agencies and officials last week blasted the Chinese regime for its ongoing malign activity around the world, with the top intelligence chief branding it "the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II".

"China's leaders seek to subordinate the rights of the individual to the will of the Communist Party," US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on December 3.

"They exert government control over companies and subvert the privacy and freedom of their citizens with an authoritarian surveillance state," he said.

Glaring evidence of this effort is in the Xinjiang region, China, where more than one million Muslims languish in indoctrination camps as Beijing attempts to forcibly integrate the community and root out its Islamic heritage.

In September, an investigative report detailed how Chinese authorities have destroyed almost 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang in recent years as part of those efforts.

On October 27, US senators brought forth a resolution declaring that the Chinese regime was committing genocide against Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims in Xinjiang.

The Chinese regime has been viewed as a strategic threat by a number of countries for years, but recently the implications of Beijing's actions around the world have expanded significantly the degree of alarm.

Chinese President Xi Jinping increasingly is employing jingoistic rhetoric during public speeches, while at the same time the Chinese military is becoming more aggressive and making incursions into the territory of other sovereign nations.

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