Laura Seitz, KSL File Photo

Utah Rep. John Curtis proposing to give Hong Kong residents priority refugee status as China asserts control

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - May 28, 2020 at 9:55 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Rep. John Curtis and Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher plan to introduce legislation giving priority status to people in Hong Kong as China approved a plan to assert more control over the semiautonomous territory.

The two Republicans’ proposal would designate Hong Kong citizens as Priority 2 refugees and direct Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to coordinate their relocation among our like-minded U.S. allies.

“Hong Kong is an important example of how freedom will propel a society to a high quality of life and prosperity. Any attempt to undermine that sovereignty should be of great concern to friends of Hong Kong and protectors of self-determination,” Curtis said in a recent tweet.

China’s legislature approved a resolution Thursday to impose national security laws on Hong Kong, overriding the territory’s partial autonomy in a bid to crush anti-Beijing protests that have challenged Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday’s vote, at the end of a weeklong session of the National People’s Congress, paves the way for Beijing to implement legal and enforcement measures in Hong Kong that mirror how mainland Chinese agencies police activities that challenge Communist Party rule.

“As the CCP crushes what remains of Hong Kong’s autonomy, it’s time for the free world to conduct an emergency airlift. I’m currently working on legislation with @RepJohnCurtis to extend priority refugee status to Hong Kongers and urge our allies and partners to do the same,” Gallagher tweeted.

Curtis, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Republican-led China Task Force, said he is closely monitoring the situation as he works with colleagues to consider appropriate measures to protect the people of Hong Kong.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also expressed his support for Hong Kong.

“The Chinese Communist Party is most afraid of one thing: independent thinkers who pursue freedom. I stand with the people of Hong Kong in their pursuit of the autonomy they were promised. The CCP-backed mass arrests must cease,” he said on Twitter.

Romney also wrote that one of the graduate school professors later returned to his home in Hong Kong with hope that he and his children would retain freedom.

“My heart aches for them and the millions of others now under the iron fists of the CCP,” the senator said.

Dennis Romboy

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