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The Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and Hong Kongers in the United States. It was founded on September 17, 2019, amid massive protests in Hong Kong that saw millions of people marching on the streets in opposition to an unpopular plan to establish extradition arrangements between Hong Kong and China proposed by then-Chief Executive Carrie Lam. But those demonstrations also reflected the broader, longstanding discontent with Beijing’s increasing suppression of everything that once made the city unique.

To advance the cause of freedom in Hong Kong, the HKDC team pushed for the successful passage of several landmark pieces of legislation: the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, the PROTECT Hong Kong Act of 2019, and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020. We also worked with the executive branch to implement these laws, including the imposition of targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for Hong Kong’s deterioration. This culminated in then-Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s decertification of Hong Kong’s special status on May 27, 2020, given that it no longer enjoyed meaningful autonomy. The following month, Beijing imposed the sweeping National Security Law (N.S.L.) on Hong Kong, effectively spelling the final demise of One Country, Two Systems and forever changing the fate of Hong Kongers.

HKDC embarked on a new chapter on September 21, 2021, when we transitioned into a brand new team led by Brian Leung, who oversaw operations, and Alex Chow, who headed the Board. Their partnership resulted in a more robust institutional foundation and sustainable development. I took on the role first of Strategy and Operations Associate and then of Strategy and Campaign Director, consolidating and significantly expanding our work under three pillars: policy advocacy, community building, as well as research and education. To strengthen the global resistance against Chinese authoritarianism, we also placed a strong emphasis on public outreach and joint campaigns. We collaborated with not only Hong Kong groups in the U.S. but also many international human-rights organizations.

I was humbled to take the helm at the end of 2022 and assume my position as Executive Director. When I first joined HKDC, I was the only woman on the executive team. In the two years since, we have welcomed strong women colleagues, including Huen Lam, Carmen Lau, and Beatrice Wu. Women have always been an irreplaceable part of Hong Kong’s decades-long pro-democracy movement. I am thinking not just of brave leaders — like Chow Hang-Tung, Gwyneth Ho, Carol Ng, Chu Wai-Ying, Wong Yuen-Lam, Winnie Yu, Claudia Mo, Tiffany Yuen, Wong Ji-Yuet — but also the many unnamed women detained for exercising their basic rights.

As I write, our organization just commemorated our fourth anniversary. But this is no occasion to celebrate. The largest N.S.L. trial thus far, which involves close to four dozen leading opposition figures, is ongoing. At the end of August 2023, our own database recorded 1,615 political prisoners since 2019. Those of us engaged in international advocacy must continue to keep the issue of Hong Kong alive and empower our growing diaspora.

The pages that follow — authored by my colleagues Huen Lam and Jeffrey Ngo — inform you of the full scope of HKDC’s work over the full two-year period after the aforementioned transition in September 2021. I am proud of what we have achieved, and there is so much more to which we can all look forward. As always, thank you for supporting the Hong Kong Democracy Council, Hong Kongers around the world, and the fight for global freedom and democracy.

Anna Kwok,
Executive Director

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