Boston (October 8, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter today to President Donald Trump demanding answers regarding a June 18 call during which he reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he would remain silent on Hong Kong, even as the world feared a crackdown on pro-democracy protests. President Trump had previously referred to pro-democracy protests as “riots,” stopped U.S. officials from speaking candidly on Hong Kong, and enabled Chinese impunity by delaying targeted sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for severe human rights violations in Xinjiang. In the letter, Senator Markey also requests a full, unedited transcript of the June 18, 2019 call with President Xi, including any records related to the call that White House staff stored inappropriately in highly secured systems.


“You have now repeatedly undercut America’s efforts to press Beijing on violations of political freedoms and human rights,” writes Senator Markey in the letter to President Trump. “You gave the leader of the Chinese Communist Party your tacit approval for continued coercion and dehumanization of protestors. Even worse, you made this commitment on the same call in which you reportedly discussed your domestic political rivals with the leader of China. Thus, President Xi may plausibly have concluded that aiding your campaign efforts would increase his freedom of action in Hong Kong.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


In the letter, Senator Markey asks President Trump to respond to questions that include:

  • Did you promise, suggest, or otherwise indicate to him that you would refrain from commenting on matters related to the protests in Hong Kong?
  • Have you provided any other assurances to President Xi regarding U.S. policy with respect to Hong Kong?
  • How are your assurances to the leader of the Chinese Communist Party regarding your intention to ignore repression in Hong Kong consistent with the imperative to guard freedom and democracy, as outlined in your September 24, 2019 speech to the United Nations General Assembly when you stated: “Freedom and democracy must be constantly guarded and protected, both abroad and from within.”
  • Are you aware of any communication from anyone in your administration to a Chinese government official suggesting, implicitly or explicitly, that the policy of the United States with respect to Hong Kong is contingent on investigations of U.S. persons carried out by Chinese authorities?
  • On which concerns related to human rights and democracy, if any, will you be pressing China while trade talks continue?


Senator Markey is an original co-sponsor of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. In June, Senators Markey and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced the Hong Kong Policy Reevaluation Act, legislation that would require reporting on how the Chinese Communist Party uses Hong Kong to circumvent U.S. export controls, customs duties, and sanctions, as well as to conduct espionage and influence operations.