Republican Convention 2020

Chen Guangcheng Fled China to America, and Last Night He Spoke at the RNC. How About Opening Our Doors to Oppressed Hongkongers Too?

"In China, expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the CCP—religion, democracy, human rights—can lead to prison."

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In an otherwise humdrum night of Republican National Convention (RNC) programming, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who escaped his home country in 2012, gave a speech that stood out.

Chen is a divisive figure among overseas dissidents and fellow critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but his story is a powerful one. In June 2005, he organized a class-action lawsuit against the authorities in Shandong province over the sterilizations and abortions that the government was imposing on citizens as part of the "one child" policy. Just months later, Chen and his family were imprisoned inside their home, where they were kept until the following year; Chen then began to serve a full-fledged prison sentence. On completing it in 2010, he was returned to further house arrest and further surveillance. Finally, in 2012, Chen sought refuge at the U.S. embassy, where he hid for several weeks; with the help of U.S. officials, he then fled to New York City with his wife and children.

In his speech last night, he told audiences how hard it is to stand up to tyranny. "When I spoke out against China's 'one child' policy and other injustices, I was persecuted, beaten, and put under house arrest," he said. "In China, expressing beliefs or ideas not approved by the CCP—religion, democracy, human rights—can lead to prison. The nation lives under mass surveillance and censorship."

He is right on all of those counts. The CCP is responsible for the brutal internment of the Uighur minority group, forced sterilizations and abortions, and crackdowns on speech and academic freedom in Hong Kong. The CCP has disappeared Hong Kong's booksellers, heavily regulated the internet to control what types of websites people can access via the "Great Firewall," and expelled foreign journalists and news bureaus to suppress the flow of information abroad. The Chinese government to this day scrubs references to its 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre from the internet. The list of ways the Chinese government systematically deprives its citizens of their rights—their ability to speak and write, create families of all sizes, access historical information, move about freely, agitate for change—goes on and on. Chen, a man who has been imprisoned by the state both in his own home and in a government facility, is immensely qualified to speak on this.

The candidate on whose behalf he was speaking, on the other hand, has failed to offer oppressed Hongkongers the most basic form of help: refuge. As my colleague Eric Boehm wrote in May, "With the freedom of Hongkongers under direct assault, the United States should throw open its doors to accept any of the city's residents who need a place to go."

This could take the form of asylum, a direct pathway to citizenship, or an expansion of visa programs to work or study in the U.S. Such an initiative could cover Hongkongers alone, or could be extended to mainland Chinese as well. The British government is already opening its doors to Hongkongers, and Australia has been flirting with following suit. Why are we so reticent?

In his speech, Chen remarked, "I'm forever grateful to the American people for welcoming me and my family to the United States where we are now free." Many more people ought to have that opportunity—and that's within the president's power to accomplish.

NEXT: Bourgeois Libertarianism Can Save America

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  1. The candidate on whose behalf he was speaking, on the other hand, has failed to offer oppressed Hongkongers the most basic form of help: refuge. As my colleague Eric Boehm wrote in May, “With the freedom of Hongkongers under direct assault, the United States should throw open its doors to accept any of the city’s residents who need a place to go.”

    Any criticism of the CCP must be followed by “but the US…”

    1. The CCP is a bunch of totalitarian worshippers of ideas about “The State Is Supreme and Morally Superior, so The State, and not peon individuals, should decide who you can buy goods and services from, without paying taxes out the ass, if you will be allowed to buy them at all”.

      But the USA must therefor act JUST LIKE CHINA, and have Government Almighty make your purchasing decisions for you! Taxes on your purchasing decisions, as selected by Government Almighty, is what is good for you, because Government Almighty says so! China knows best, so Government Almighty will follow their lead!

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    2. The problem is, remember the Mariel boat lift? Where Cuba emptied their prisons into the US?

      Since exit from Hong Kong is controlled, we’d have a serious problem with the Chicoms using it as an opportunity to plant a bunch of agents here, while the people who really needed out would remain trapped.

      The time to have done this was back when Thatcher decided to sweeten the deal in handing Hong Kong back to China, by canceling their travel visas so that China would get the people, too, not just empty land. We should have offered them US travel visas. But I guess Reagan didn’t want to insult an ally by making a public fuss about her odious choices.

      Now? It’s a bit late, you’d have to very carefully scrutinize everybody leaving Hong Kong, and maybe even assist with the escape for some of them.

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  2. I’m willing to do a 1:1 swap of Hong Kong to Portland/Seattle “protesters”. I’m starting to consider a 1:1 swap of the Kenosha “protesters” with Afganistan. There would be less property damage.

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  3. The US should welcome anyone who believes in full freedom and equality and opposes government handouts. Many of the HK dissidents are actually socialists in various ways and hell no we shouldn’t let them in to do to our country what they did to theirs.

    What China needs is the Bill of Rights. Now it’s time for Chinese Americans, who’ve lived here for decades in many cases, to bestow the blessings of freedom and justice they learned here upon their ancestral homeland. And if they refuse, or if they’ve learned nothing, then China is lost and there’s no point taking more of them.

    1. We’d also need to do a lot of ground work to identify legit refugees vs CCP sleepers

  4. Maby the NBA will protest his speach and not play today’s games eighter?

  5. How About Opening Our Doors to Oppressed Hongkongers Too?

    Are the doors actually closed to HongKongers do they just have to “get in the back of the line” behind (e.g.) Libyan refugees who’s country we fucked up or other refugees who may’ve been living under oppression longer or had upheaval sprung upon them more suddenly or who’s oppression is (like Chen’s) more direct and personal?

    1. They’re not only at the back of the line, they’re behind a line of people that, according to Democrats, aren’t even officially in the line.

  6. I’m all for it. We should be falling all over ourselves to allow in immigrants who wave American flags and sing the national anthem.

    1. “I’m all for it. We should be falling all over ourselves to allow in immigrants who wave American flags and sing the national anthem.”

      What about the “immigrants” that pay thousands of dollars to get here, endure rape, exploitation, dehydration, imprisonment and risk of death in hot trailers?

      If only they had known that learning a song and waving a flag was the way to go.
      FFS

      Do you like overtly remorseful defendants at sentencing too?

      1. “What about the “immigrants” that pay thousands of dollars to get here, endure rape, exploitation, dehydration, imprisonment and risk of death in hot trailers?”

        So… people who deliberately break US law

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      2. What about the “immigrants” that pay thousands of dollars to get here, endure rape, exploitation, dehydration, imprisonment and risk of death in hot trailers?

        Give them a free ticket home and tell them not to come back?

  7. A large portion of current Hong Kong residents are essentially illegal immigrants put in Hong Kong by the CCP due to their loyalty to the party. As much as it would be great to provide safe haven for the HKers escaping from communist tyranny, we should also be careful not to let in the apparatchiks. We have enough of those already.

  8. in. flee Hong Kong.

  9. the other day on Twitter, I did state that despite Trump’s rhetoric, Boris Johnson and the current UK government is doing way more for the people of Hong Kong

    1. It’s almost like the UK should have some kind of responsibility for Hong Kong’s people…

  10. How About Opening Our Doors to Oppressed Hongkongers Too?

    Because that’s what the US need! More foreign minorities with chips on their shoulders about the political situation in their homelands! It’s the Libertarian way!

  11. Best advice my dad gave me – “Don’t make your problems my problems”. Why are we obligated to open our doors for anyone? Time for them to fight for themselves. Opening our doors to the oppressed is no different than foreign entanglements. They will not just show up here and not expect something free.

  12. Or we could go radical capitalist have a huge economic boom, export that to the rest of the world and overwhelm the CCP with liberty!

    1. Sell the peoples of Hong Kong lots of primers and powder.

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  14. Did you see Chen Guangcheng’s latest speech? Neither did he!

    Seriously, he sounds like a hero to me – if he’s “divisive” among fellow exiles it’s because he supports Republicans and they support the Democrats. At least that’s what the linked article seemed to indicated.

    So by the same token, the exiles who support the Democrats are “divisive” too because they are at odds with Republican exiles.

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  17. This is spot on. We should offer immediate residency to anyone from Hong Kong who reaches the US.

  18. And we should let in white South Africans fleeing the genocide. As with Hong Kongers, we would have to assist in their escape.

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