The Senate passed bipartisan legislation Thursday imposing sanctions on China for a law critics say threatens Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The legislation, sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, targets Chinese individuals who seek to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and the banks that do business with them, The Hill reported.
“If a Chinese bank decides they value doing business with the oppressors more than they value access to the U.S. dollar… then they can make that decision,” Toomey told reporters after the bill passed, according to The Hill.
“Through this bill, the U.S. Senate makes clear which side we’re on.”
Sen. Van Hollen echoed Toomey’s comments, saying that the “United States must stand with the people of Hong Kong,” The Hill reported.
The House has unanimously passed the #HongKong Autonomy Act. @ChrisVanHollen and I will pursue Senate concurrence as soon as possible so this gets to the president’s desk. America must stand with the people of #HongKong. https://t.co/pgCogKxUdh
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) July 1, 2020
The bill passed the House Wednesday and awaits President Donald Trump’s signature. (RELATED: UK Government To Give Over 3 Million Hong Kong Citizens Path To UK Citizenship After Passage Of National Security Law)
The bill is the latest action taken by the U.S. government to counter Chinese aggression towards Hong Kong. The Trump administration last week said that it will impose visa restrictions on the same individuals targeted by the legislation.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed the administration’s stance, saying that “the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to impose draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong destroys the territory’s autonomy and one of China’s greatest achievements.”
Hong Kong and China has operated under a “one country, two systems” relationship since the territory’s sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, but China has aggressively encroached on Hong Kong in recent months. (RELATED: ‘I Am Afraid’: China Tightens Grip On Hong Kong With Commission To Report Dissidents)
Beijing passed a national security law Monday that critics say will restrict the political and civil freedoms of Hong Kong residents. Protests against China’s alleged encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy have continued for months.
China reacted strongly to the bipartisan legislation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China “deplores and rejects” the bill, and said that all attempts to stop China’s efforts in Hong Kong were “doomed to fail,” Politico reported.
“We urge the U.S. side to grasp the situation, abide by international law and basic norms of international relations, [and] stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any means,” Zhao said.
“Otherwise China will react strongly and the U.S. shall bear all consequences.”
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