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Global view needed to tackle looming US sanctions threat

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Global view needed to tackle looming US sanctions threat

By Chrystie Lam Haa-iu and Kacee Ting Wong

The introduction of the so-called “Hong Kong Sanctions Act” to the US Congress by three US lawmakers last week has generated a tsunami of protest from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, the Hong Kong Judiciary, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, the Law Association of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Bar Association, political parties and many other organizations.

Some Hong Kong legislators have also voiced their strong objection to the proposed legislation. As a result of the provocative bill, relations between the China-bashers on Capitol Hill and the HKSAR government have become dangerously tense.

The bill urges the Biden administration to consider imposing sanctions on 49 Hong Kong officials, judges, and prosecutors for their involvement in enforcing the National Security Law for Hong Kong (NSL), including Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee, and Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung. Rather than introducing better laws to promote the well-being of American society, these US politicians are hijacking the legislative process for their own ends.

At a time when geopolitical rivalry is occupying the minds of many American politicians, we should contextualize the proposed legislation against the backdrop of Sino-American competitive relations.

In May, in an attempt to vilify the NSL the US Congressional-Executive Committee on China (CECC) urged the US government to consider imposing sanctions on 29 judges who had handled national security cases. Not surprisingly, the CECC’s groundless accusations led to an outcry from the HKSAR government and many legal practitioners in Hong Kong.

The three China-bashers, Young Kim, John Curtis, and Jim McGovern, took it a step further and introduced the bill, the Hong Kong Sanctions Act, last week.

Although Kim is not a high-profile China-basher, she has expressed her displeasure with the recent meeting between President Xi Jinping and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The CECC is also a strong supporter of the latest move to intimidate Hong Kong officials. Senator Jeff Merkley, co-chair of the CECC, and Senator Dan Sullivan introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Some China-bashers see China as a new incarnation of the former Soviet Union and insist that it must be contained at all costs. Their viewpoints have been at best prejudicial and seriously detrimental to the Sino-American relations. Like Merkley, Mike Gallagher, who is the Republican chairman of the new House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and the Communist Party of China, is notorious for his hostile remarks about China, in particular his alarmist theory that US efforts to re-engage with China would lead to America’s demise.

Suffering from “inattentional blindness”, these unscrupulous US politicians deliberately ignored the fact that judicial independence is deeply embedded in the fabric of Hong Kong’s judicial system. It makes no sense for Kim to accuse Beijing of exerting “control” on Hong Kong residents through the NSL. It is a gross travesty of justice that those US politicians have repeatedly exerted pressure on Hong Kong’s judiciary. Threatening to impose sanctions on judges for performing their duties amounts to intimidation.

The judiciary is often termed a “fragile bastion” as there are apprehensions that the impartiality and neutrality of the institution and the personal integrity of an individual judge may crumble owing to the outside influences and pressures it has to face (Sneha Mahawar, What is an Independent Judiciary, in iPleaders, Sept 10, 2022). Therefore, we cannot underestimate the dreadful impact of the intimidation against Hong Kong judges because Hong Kong’s international financial center status is sustained on the foundation of the rule of law and judicial independence.

In response to the proposed legislation, the Hong Kong judiciary reiterated that the judges and judicial officers in the city have no control over what cases are to be brought before them but once a case is brought before the court, it must be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law. The Hong Kong Bar Association issued its strong condemnation of any attempt to impose sanctions on judges, judicial officers and legal practitioners. It expressed confidence that Hong Kong’s judges “have always and will continue to operate independently and apolitically”.

We urge China-bashers on Capitol Hill to view Sino-American relations from a broader perspective. What has become increasingly clear is that many major global problems need solutions based on joint actions by both superpowers. They should bear in mind that Sino-American relations could easily go off the rails, in spite of the preliminary signs of detente. Stable Sino-American relations serve the national interests of the US.

Kurt Tong, a former US consul general to Hong Kong, said sanctioning judges could be considered controversial given the importance of judicial independence. As far as the serious effects of the bill are concerned, Tong and our Chinese Dream Think Tank are on the same page. We have nowhere to retreat when our judges are intimidated. Our think tank is of the view that the proposed legislation should not be passed. In order to stabilize Sino-American relations, both countries need to erect more guardrails and the China-bashers on Capitol Hill should desist from using Hong Kong as a punching bag.

Chrystie Lam Haa-iu is director of labor and welfare affairs, Chinese Dream Think Tank, and founder of the Coalition of Global Home Service Sustainable Development. Kacee Ting Wong is a barrister, part-time researcher of Shenzhen University Hong Kong and Macao Basic Law Research Center, and chairman of the Chinese Dream Think Tank.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

【CDTT Newspaper Article】Chrystie Lam & Kacee Ting:Global view needed to tackle looming US sanctions threat (China Daily HK Edition, 09 Nov 2023)

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/360452#Global-view-needed-to-tackle-looming-US-sanctions-threat

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/epaper/pubs//chinadaily/2023/11/09/08.pdf

Chinese Dream Think Tank is a non-profit Hong Kong-based organization working with skilled volunteers, experts and professionals who are passionate about telling the China story well.

This article is reproduced by Kwun Media with the consent of China Daily.

中國夢智庫| 強烈抗議「無恥」《香港制裁法》法案 

近期,三名美國國會議員向國會提交《香港制裁法》(Hong Kong Sanctions Act)法案(該法案),香港特區政府、司法機構、中聯辦、港澳辦、律師協會與大律師公會紛紛提出強烈抗議。許多立法會議員也對該法案表示強烈反對。該法案極具挑釁性,國會山莊的反華人士與香港特區政府之間的緊張關係已上升至一個危險的水平。

 

美國眾議院與參議院的議員呼籲拜登政府對49名香港特區政府官員、法官與主控官,以犯下《香港國安法》莫须有的侵犯人權行為為藉口,要求實施制裁。該法案的適用範圍包括律政司司長林定國、警務處處長蕭澤頤與終審法院首席法官張舉能。大家看淸楚,美國那些政客們對促進本國社會福祉的立法工作漠不關心,反而賊眉賊眼地打著制裁香港特區的小算盤,這是美國政客公私不分,把一己私利劫持立法程序,達到不可告人的政治目的。

 

現時地緣政治競爭中,美國政壇充斥着霸凌與正面挑戰中國的思潮。許多美國政客腦袋瓜進了水,但大家應該保持冷靜,從中美競爭關係背景的大局角度,來思考該法案。2023年5月,「美國國會及行政當局中國委員會」 (CECC)胡說八道,稱《香港國安法》在特區建立了一個獨立的法律體系,中央與香港特區政府對司法機構進行無限制式管控。毫不奇怪,這些毫無根據的指控,還敦促美國對行政長官任命的29名處理涉及國家安全案件的法官實施制裁。當時已經引起香港特區政府與許多法律從業者的強烈抗議。

再來,2023 年 11 月初,金映玉(Young Kim)、匡希恆(John Curtis)與吉姆·麥高文(Jim McGovern)這三名抨擊中國的無恥小醜提出該法案。儘管金映玉抨擊中國的方式不算高調,但她最近對習近平主席與加州州長葛文·紐森(Gavin Newson)的會晤表示不滿。CECC也表明立場,堅定支持該法案。CECC聯合主席、參議員傑夫·默克利(Jeff Merkley)表示,CECC將繼續為捍衛香港特區居民,反對所謂的專制制度下因發聲而遭受的打壓。與此同時,默克利與參議員丹尼爾·蘇利文(Dan Sullivan)更在參議院提交了配套法案(註1)。

一些抨擊中國的美國人認為,中國是舊蘇聯擴張主義威脅的新替身,必須不惜一切代價加以遏制。這些觀點無疑具有很強的偏見性,不利與嚴重影中美關係的正常化進程。與默克利一樣,新成立的眾議院「美國與中國共產黨戰略競爭特設委員會」共和黨主席,臭名遠揚的麥克·蓋拉格(Mike Gallagher)也對中國充滿著敵意。蓋拉格批評拜登政府是在與北京進行「殭屍接觸」(Zombie Engagement),他早前作出警告: 任何努力與中國重新建立聯繫將導致美國的滅亡,美國不應降低香港特區人權問題的優先次序(註2)。

這些肆無忌憚的美國政客明顯患上了「非注意盲視症」,故意對香港特區故有的司法獨立視而不見,要知道司法獨立早已深深植根在香港特區司法系統,這是事實。金映玉赤裸裸地指控北京,說什麼北京利用國家安全法律對香港特區居民施加控制,這顯然與事實不符(註3)。這些政客一再向香港特區司法機構施加壓力,這是對正義的嚴重蓄意嘲弄,針對香港特區法官的恐嚇。人們擔心司法機構的公正性、中立性與法官個人的完整性在外來影響與壓力可能會崩潰(註4),司法機構經常被比喻為「脆弱的最後堡壘」。因為香港特區的國際金融中心地位是建立在法治與司法獨立的基礎上,所以大家不應低估上述恐嚇可能對香港特區司法獨立所造成的可怕影響。

針對該法案,香港特區司法機構重申,法官與司法人員無法控制提交進法院的案件種類,但法院一經受理案件,法院必須嚴格依法處理。大律師公會也強烈譴責任何對法官、司法人員與法律執業者實施制裁的企圖,發言稿表示公會相信香港特區的法官一直並將繼續獨立地行事,不涉及政治(註5)。

儘管該法案可能會讓拜登政府感到尷尬,但專家表示,這項有爭議的法案不太可能對習近平主席與拜登本月即將在三藩市舉行的亞太經合組織領導人會議期間的會晤產生影響。筆者懇切地敦促國會山莊那些任意抨擊中國的議員們,要從大局的角度看待中美關係。顯而易見,許多重大的全球性問題需要中美這兩個超級大國聯手才能解決。他(她)們應該牢牢地記住,儘管中美關係有緩和的初步跡象,但兩國關係正處於僵持狀態,很容易偏離軌道。穩定的中美關係是符合美國國家利益的。

 

最後,前美國駐香港特區特使唐偉康(Kurt Tong)表示,鑒於司法獨立的重要性,制裁法官是有爭議的(註6)。關於該法案的嚴重影響,「中國夢智庫」(智庫)與唐偉康的意見一致。當法官受到恐嚇時,大家無處可退。智庫認為,該法案應下架,不能獲得通過。為了穩定中美關係,兩國都需要建設更多安全護欄,國會山莊抨擊中國的議員們應避免將香港特區作為出氣沙包,動不動就胡攪蠻纏。

事實與資料來源已核查

註 1: Rep. Young Kim, Colleagues Lead Hong Kong Sanctions Act available at: https://youngkim.house.gov/media/press-releases/rep-young-kim-colleagues-lead-hong-kong-sanctions-act

註 2: Yihua Lee「VOA Interview: Congressman Mike Gallagher Describes US-China Relations as 『Zombie Engagement’」VOA 21.10.2023 available at: https://www.voanews.com/amp/voa-interview-congressman-mike-gallagher-describes-us-china-relations-as-zombie-engagement-/7328757.html

註 3: James Lee「US lawmakers introduce bill to sanction Hong Kong judges and prosecutors; gov’t slams despicable intimidation」Hong Kong Free Press 03.11.2023 available at: https://hongkongfp.com/2023/11/03/us-lawmakers-introduce-bill-to-sanction-hong-kong-judges-and-prosecutors-govt-slams-despicable-intimidation/

註 4: Sneha Mahawar「What is an Independent Judiciary」iPleaders 10.09.2022 available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/what-is-an-independent-judiciary/#:~:text=An%20independent%20judiciary%20implies%20that,not%20act%20on%20its%20behalf.

註 5: Sammy Heung and Kahon Chan「Hong Kong slams US lawmakers behind bill seeking to sanction 49 officials, judges and prosecutors over national security law, calling it a blatant attempt to intimidate」SCMP 03.11.2023 available at: https://amp.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3240195/us-lawmakers-introduce-bill-calling-sanctions-49-hong-kong-officials-over-human-rights-violations

註 6: Kahon Chan「A US bill to sanction Hong Kong officials, legal figures will not derail meeting between President Xi Jinping and America’s Joe Biden, experts predict」SCMP 04.11.2023 available at: https://amp.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3240326/proposed-us-legislation-sanction-hong-kong-officials-and-legal-figures-will-not-derail-meeting

(閱讀英文版)

【CDTT Newspaper Article】Chrystie Lam & Kacee Ting:Global view needed to tackle looming US sanctions threat (China Daily HK Edition, 09 Nov 2023)

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/article/360452#Global-view-needed-to-tackle-looming-US-sanctions-threat

https://www.chinadailyhk.com/epaper/pubs//chinadaily/2023/11/09/08.pdf

文:林夏瑤

《中國夢智庫》勞工及福利事務總監
丁煌大律師行法律研究助理
國際家政服務業持續發展聯會創辦人

文:丁煌

深圳大學基本法研究中心兼職研究員
經民聯港島支部主席,「中國夢智庫」主席
香港薈萃協會法律顧問,城市智庫成員
國際公益法律服務協會顧問委員會成員
全國港澳研究會會員

《中國夢智庫》是一間扎根特區的非牟利團體;與心存熱誠的資深義工、專家與職業專業人士們合作,攜手「說好中國故事」。

*作者文章觀點,不代表《觀新聞》立場