Romney to Chair Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Freedom of Expression in Asia

Ahead of hearing, Romney releases his opening remarks on China’s crackdown on freedom

WASHINGTON—Today at 2:00pm ET, U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member and Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, will hold a hearing titled, “The Assault on Freedom of Expression in Asia.

Ahead of the hearing, Senator Romney released the following remarks, which he plans to submit for the record:

The topic that we are discussing today is of great significance to each of us in this room and to people around the world. That is the freedom of expression—including the freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and association.

From the beginning of humanity, history was characterized by strong men assembling the muscle from collaborators to dominate, rule, and oppress others. They were the feudal lord, Tzar, Caesar, warlord, Emperor, or king. All were authoritarians, and most of them were tyrants.

I have a chart in my office that traces the military and economic might of civilizations from 2,000 BC until today. In the over 4,000 years of human history, dominating civilizations have come and gone. Only a few short-lived periods of democracy interrupt a virtually uninterrupted course of authoritarian domination. Authoritarianism is the default setting of world history, and of the authoritarian regimes that have prevailed through history one of longest surviving is China.

China, under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, does not embrace the rules of the global order, including of freedom of expression and respect for human rights. It has rejected them and done the opposite—imprisoning a million Uyghurs in concentration camps; brutally repressing dissent; censoring the media and Internet; suppressing the expression of faith and the practice of religion.

And the CCP does not keep within the confines of China’s borders. It obliterated the guarantees it gave to Hong Kong to uphold “one country, two systems”—suppressing democracy and the freedom of the Hong Kong people. And I fear that Xi Jinping will take a page from Putin’s playbook for conquest to try to invade and exert dominance over the independent, sovereign nation of Taiwan. I hope that Xi learns from Ukraine that a free people will not go easily into the night.

We recognize also that China is not the only country where we see the crackdown on the freedom of expression in Asia, or around the world generally. The Freedom House assessed that 2020 marked “the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom” and that “nearly 75 percent of the world’s population” live in a country where freedom is deteriorating.

When America is involved in the world, the world is a safer, freer, and more prosperous place. We have a responsibility to push back against the crackdowns on freedom around the world, not only to stand with those people currently being subjugated but to protect those who will in the future suffer repression from the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes.