Rep. John Curtis responded to calls for his arrest in Hong Kong on Monday after he co-sponsored a bill to sanction several dozen Hong Kong officials.
The Utah congressman was one of five U.S. lawmakers named in a petition filed to Hong Kong’s High Court on Monday that would enable Hong Kong citizens and law enforcement to arrest the members of Congress if they are found in the city.
The writ filed to the High Court requests an order for the arrest of Curtis, who represents Utah’s 3rd Congressional District; Rep. Young Kim, R-Calif.; Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass.; Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
It comes after the bipartisan group of lawmakers on Nov. 1 introduced parallel legislation in the U.S. House and Senate that would apply financial sanctions to 49 Hong Kong government officials, law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors for alleged human rights violations committed by the Hong Kong judiciary since the Chinese Communist Party implemented restrictive national security laws in 2019-2020.
“I have watched the last few years as freedoms in Hong Kong have been dismantled,” Curtis said Monday in a statement. “Now, pro-CCP lawmakers are calling for the citizen arrests of me and my Congressional colleagues for shining a light on the deterioration of rights.”
The lawyer behind the petition for the arrest of Curtis, Jimmy Siu See-kong, said the U.S. lawmakers were interfering with the Hong Kong justice system by attempting to pressure judicial officials, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. Local Hong Kong outlets also report that Siu has a history of prosecuting legal battles against individuals who oppose the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Hong Kong.
In 2020, Curtis introduced the Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act, making it easier for Hong Kong refugees to gain asylum in the United States. In 2022, and again in 2023, Curtis introduced the Hong Kong Business Integrity and Transparency Act, which would document each instance where Hong Kong authorities demand that U.S. companies share their data or assist in government operations.
The bill introduced by Curtis and his colleagues earlier this month would require President Joe Biden to implement sanctions on the Hong Kong officials listed if it is determined they violated human rights law.
“I have a message for those who would try to silence my calls for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong,” Curtis said. “I will not be bullied or silenced. Your cat calls from 8,000 miles away will only reinforce my resolve to fight for freedom in Hong Kong, Ukraine, Israel, and wherever else it is challenged.”