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house Bill H.R. 4270

Should U.S. Companies be Prohibited From Selling Non-Lethal Crowd Control Items (Like Tear Gas) to the Hong Kong Police?

Argument in favor

American-made crowd control items have been heavily used in the Hong Kong police’s efforts to suppress peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong. This is especially troubling in light of reports that tear gas in particular has been misused, raising risks of death and serious injury. Until the Hong Kong protests are settled, American companies shouldn’t be allowed to export crowd control items that could be misused or used to suppress peaceful protests to Hong Kong.

Ayush's Opinion
···
10/14/2019
Yes, the people of Hong Kong stand for democracy, which is exactly what the US should consider as one of its core values. We should not be helping a communist regime suppress the free speech of its people.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/14/2019
We shouldn’t be helping oppression regimes ANYWHERE! I don’t give a flying duck about some murder manufacturing corporations profit. Eff Em.
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10/14/2019
We should not be supporting the Chinese government in any way with regard to Hong Kong! Our policy should be non-interference on all levels except statements in direct diplomatic meetings that would inform China of the possible impacts of its decisions on its trading with us and our NATO allies. We need to respect other nations’ handling of their own internal activities, and any protests should be made through the UN. We must reestablish a climate of respect for other countries borders and their right to govern as their peoples see fit. Strengthening the voice of the UN, and acting through the UN and NATO should be our policy. It is time to end our aggressive “nation-building” and become an influential partner with other countries in promoting worldwide change. And the change can begin right here in our own country! With our own house in such disorder we are in NO position to guide or instruct others!!🇺🇸
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Argument opposed

Hong Kong’s unrest is a domestic matter for the Chinese government to resolve as it sees fit. The Chinese government, like any other sovereign nation, is within its rights to handle domestic protests and unrest as it sees fit and to use necessary tools — such as crowd control gear and tear gas — to that end. Given the fragile state of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, it’d be a bad idea to risk angering the Chinese government before trade talks conclude.

Rick 's Opinion
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10/14/2019
Although we might not like what’s going on elsewhere in the world our government has NO business restricting free enterprise without going through the proper channels to restrict trade with these other countries! Even then this may not bring about the desired changes as THEY have a right to run their country as they wish! Hence why we have politicians to actually talk and use diplomatic means of correcting any violations in human rights that these countries are committing. Additionally, politicians should be working with our allies to put additional pressure on these rogue governments!!!
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Robert j.'s Opinion
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10/14/2019
Limited effectiveness. Why not open the door to political asylum for refugees?
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RjGoodman's Opinion
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10/14/2019
While I emphasize with the situation, I don’t think we have the moral authority to be the world’s conscience.
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What is House Bill H.R. 4270?

This bill — the PROTECT Hong Kong Act — would prohibit U.S. companies from exporting non-lethal crowd control items, such as tear gas, and defense articles and services to Hong Kong. To enforce this prohibition, it would prohibit the Depts. of State and Commerce from issuing licenses for the export of defense articles and munitions to the Hong Kong police.

Additionally, this bill would require the Secretary of State to issue a report to Congress detailing all defense and munition items exported to Hong Kong in the past five years.

This bill’s full title is the Placing Restrictions on Teargas Exports and Crowd Control Technology to Hong Kong Act. 

Impact

U.S. companies that produce non-lethal crowd control items; U.S. companies that export non-lethal crowd control items to Hong Kong; Dept. of State; Dept. of Commerce; Hong Kong; and the Hong Kong police force.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4270

$3.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost $3 million over the 2020-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. James McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, introduced this bipartisan bill to prohibit commercial exports of certain nonlethal crowd control items, defense articles, and service to the Hong Kong Police Force

“I am deeply concerned that American-made police equipment is being used to violently crack down on peaceful protesters in Hong Kong. America ought to recognize the human rights and dignity of all people, and that means we ought not to allow American companies to sell this equipment to foreign governments when we see evidence that it is being used for immoral and unjust purposes.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the other co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, adds

“Hong Kong police are targeting their own citizens who are guilty of nothing more than peacefully protesting government threats to their freedoms and liberties. Peaceful demonstrations are not riots; it is unacceptable to use violence against non-violent protestors. Until such a time when it becomes clear that American products are not being used to repress the free people of Hong Kong, Congress must stop the flow of these exports to the government of Hong Kong. This legislation does that.”

Before introducing this bill, Reps. McGovern and Smith sent a letter to the Trump administration calling for the suspension of future sales of munitions and crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong Police Force. In their letter, they also called for increased scrutiny of defense sales to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s government. 

Joshua Wong, secretary-general of Hong Kong’s Demosisto party and one of the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong who has also been an active participant in the current Hong Kong protests, testified in favor of this legislation before the Congressional Executive Commission on China. Wong claimed that this legislation and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act have “broad support” in Hong Kong. He called on Congress to stand “on the side of Hong Kongers, the side of human rights and decency” and added: 

“The police's excessive force today is clear. Their increasingly liberal use of pepper spray, pepper balls, rubber bullets, sponge bullets, bean bag rounds, and water cannons -- almost all of which are imported from Western democracies -- are no less troubling.”

In a September 26, 2019 op-ed in The Hill, Brian Dooley, senior advisor at Human Rights First, a nonprofit, nonpartisan international human rights organization, called on Congress to pass this bill “in a strong show of solidarity” with Hong Kong protestors. He argued that this together, this bill and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act are “a rare chance [for legislators] to vote their conscience, stand with the good guys and get on the right side of history.”

The Chinese government has accused American politicians criticizing its actions in Hong Kong of undermining China. Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, says that the nature of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong has turned violent, and that they challenge the One Country, Two Systems principle which grants Hong Kong’s autonomy. In late September 2019, he warned that U.S. Congressional interference in the Hong Kong protests would damage the relationship between the U.S. and China.

Similarly, in mid-September 2019, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that “Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. No foreign government, organization, or individual has any right to interfere.” 

Some industry groups have expressed concerns that legislation supporting Hong Kong or expressing opposition to China’s actions against protestors could threaten trade talks between the U.S. and China. President Trump has suggested that China could “humanely” settle the Hong Kong protests before trade talks conclude.

This legislation unanimously passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs with the support of 27 bipartisan cosponsors, including 21 Democrats and six Republicans. 


Of NoteThe Hong Kong police have used weapons from Nonlethal Technologies (a Pennsylvania-based company) and ALS (a Florida-based company), among others. Nonlethal Technologies also supplied riot-control equipment to a number of Middle Eastern companies during the Arab Spring

According to police figures, Hong Kong authorities used more than 1,800 rounds of tear gas from the start of the protests in June to early September 2019. Much of the tear gas was manufactured by Nonlethal Technologies.

In a letter to their Congressional colleagues seeking cosponsors for this bill, the Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China noted that Hong Kong police have used U.S.-made crowd control equipment against peaceful protestors:

“In recent months, journalists and Hong Kong citizens have provided credible evidence showing that the Hong Kong Police Force has used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, batons, and other crowd control equipment against peaceful protesters in violation of manufacturer guidelines and international standards. In at least some instances, U.S.-made crowd control equipment was involved.”

In August 2019, the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it received credible evidence that Hong Kong law enforcement had employed non-lethal weapons “in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards.” The UN said that Hong Kong police officers had been seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protestors. Both these practices raise the risk of death or serious injury.

The British government suspended its exports of crowd-control equipment to Hong Kong in June 2019. At the time, then-foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the ban would remain in place until concerns about human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong were addressed.

The Hong Kong police force is already turning to mainland Chinese suppliers for its anti-riot gear needs. In late August 2019, the force confirmed its pivot away from European vendors in favor of purchasing anti-riot protective gear from a mainland manufacturer. Concurrently, mainland Chinese companies are expected to step up tear gas production due to rising domestic and international demand (however, Hong Kong isn’t yet believed to be an export destination). 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / LewisTsePuiLung)

AKA

Placing Restrictions on Teargas Exports and Crowd Control Technology to Hong Kong Act

Official Title

To prohibit commercial exports of certain nonlethal crowd control items and defense articles and services to the Hong Kong Disciplined Services, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Financial Services
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 10th, 2019
    Yes, the people of Hong Kong stand for democracy, which is exactly what the US should consider as one of its core values. We should not be helping a communist regime suppress the free speech of its people.
    Like (15)
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    Share
    Although we might not like what’s going on elsewhere in the world our government has NO business restricting free enterprise without going through the proper channels to restrict trade with these other countries! Even then this may not bring about the desired changes as THEY have a right to run their country as they wish! Hence why we have politicians to actually talk and use diplomatic means of correcting any violations in human rights that these countries are committing. Additionally, politicians should be working with our allies to put additional pressure on these rogue governments!!!
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    We should not be supporting the Chinese government in any way with regard to Hong Kong! Our policy should be non-interference on all levels except statements in direct diplomatic meetings that would inform China of the possible impacts of its decisions on its trading with us and our NATO allies. We need to respect other nations’ handling of their own internal activities, and any protests should be made through the UN. We must reestablish a climate of respect for other countries borders and their right to govern as their peoples see fit. Strengthening the voice of the UN, and acting through the UN and NATO should be our policy. It is time to end our aggressive “nation-building” and become an influential partner with other countries in promoting worldwide change. And the change can begin right here in our own country! With our own house in such disorder we are in NO position to guide or instruct others!!🇺🇸
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    We shouldn’t be helping oppression regimes ANYWHERE! I don’t give a flying duck about some murder manufacturing corporations profit. Eff Em.
    Like (11)
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    Share
    👉👉100 Percent! All persons Globally deserve to have Democracy and a voice. Stand with Hong Kong!👈👈
    Like (6)
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    American-made crowd control items have been heavily used in the Hong Kong police’s efforts to suppress peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong. This is especially troubling in light of reports that tear gas in particular has been misused, raising risks of death and serious injury. Until the Hong Kong protests are settled, American companies shouldn’t be allowed to export crowd control items that could be misused or used to suppress peaceful protests to Hong Kong.
    Like (3)
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    The USA must stand up for the people of Hong Kong and Freedom of Speech.
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    While I emphasize with the situation, I don’t think we have the moral authority to be the world’s conscience.
    Like (3)
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    Limited effectiveness. Why not open the door to political asylum for refugees?
    Like (3)
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    America must stand for the democratic principles of representation of the people’s voice in leadership. It isn’t democracy if the voice of the people is drowned in tear gas and then imprisoned or murdered.
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    Support democracy not Chinese repression.
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    I support The people of Hong Kong. Pretty sure we are not the only ones that can supply teargas. This is kind a like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Let’s try a little harder and come up with something much better.
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    American-made crowd control items have been heavily used in the Hong Kong police’s efforts to suppress peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong. This is especially troubling in light of reports that tear gas in particular has been misused, raising risks of death and serious injury. Until the Hong Kong protests are settled, American companies shouldn’t be allowed to export crowd control items that could be misused or used to suppress peaceful protests to Hong Kong.
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    Representatives, Strongly Support HR 4270 Even if one truly believes that the USA should stay out of the internal affairs of other countries then the US government should not allow the sale of American made crowd control devices to any foreign government. In particular the government should prohibit commercial exportation of all lethal and nonlethal crowd control items and defense articles and services to the Hong Kong Disciplined Services, or to other Chinese governmental entities for any purpose. Personally, I believe the Hong Kong crackdown should be condemned in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately, we have a president so morally bankrupt he can't even denounce the video in which he is depicted as killing political opponents and journalists. He has no moral voice at all. We need the bipartisan of Congress to do what is right: prevent the sale of all crowd control devices and denounce crackdown on the protestors.
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    Yes because those are often used to hurt and injure protesters who are completely within their rights to do so
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    Hong Kong protesters are fighting for the same freedom we did. We should not hinder their fight.
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    If these items were not sold by US Companies, China would make them and sell them to the rest of the world , including The Hong Kong Police , better and cheaper!! The real question is how could we as Americans, help our bothers and sisters in Hong Kong to influence The Chinese in establishing a better “One Country two system”!! Colonialism is wrong and foreign interference is China’s dilemma is helpful only if wisdom and compassion prevail! This far, the wisdom of Xi Jinping, has been extraordinary! The US in the same situation would have had the Police attest all of the rioters the first day! But influencing a transition of development and democracy in Hong Kong , a Chinese city in China, must not devolve into meaningless gestures of sanctions by prohibiting the sale of tear gas. This year we have caused the instability of Syrian Kurds by abandoning them to Turkeys hostility; we have caused the refugee cris in Venezuela by crippling sanctions; we have contributed to the deaths of thousands of Yemenis by supplying logistics and arms to The Saudis!! Let’s concentrate our energy on creating a democracy here where a recession may hit us within the next 22 months! Let’s stop Trump and his White Supremacy system of violence and oppression of our own citizens and residents!! Tear gas sanctions to the Chinese should be the least of our concerns!! Hong Kong is not Charlotte North Carolina!!
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    I think we are on the brink of WWIII! We have a Despot leader, spineless politicians, puppet military, tariff war, broken laws, baby jails and we are seen by allies as turn coats. We are losers as a nation and we are selling chemicals to hold back people wanting positive change. Shame on any politician in this country who sells tear gas. I stand with the protestors!
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    Stop the spread of communism. Say no here and put your foot down.
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    I support the protesters but this too far. Removing nonviolent means will put the protesters at more risk and create problems in the future
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