Senate Endorses Bill To Punish China For Hong Kong

This image taken on December 19, 2017 shows the Chinese and Hong Kong flags (above) hoisted in Hong Kong.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | fake pictures

The United States Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals or companies that support China’s efforts to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy, rejecting Beijing’s new security law for the city.

The measure also includes secondary penalties for banks doing business with anyone who is endorsing any crackdown on territory autonomy, which could exclude them from their U.S. counterparts and limit access to transactions in U.S. dollars.

The “Hong Kong Autonomy Law” was passed unanimously. To become law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, a top sponsor, said in the Senate that the legislation would send a clear message to Beijing that there would be consequences if Hong Kong’s autonomy was undermined.

Hong Kong’s sanctions bill was almost passed last week, Van Hollen said, but was blocked by Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, who co-sponsored it, at the request of the Trump administration, who made a late request for technical corrections.

The delay underscored the complications of passing legislation that pushes China, as the administration seeks a trade deal and the two powers struggle for international influence and the clash over human rights.

Relations between the United States and China have worsened since the coronavirus pandemic, which started in China, hit the United States.

China’s security legislation prompted Trump to initiate a process to remove the special economic treatment that has allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.

Chinese hawks in Congress have lobbied for a strong reaction from the United States to any crackdown in Hong Kong.

“This could be our last chance to hold Beijing’s hand before it destroys what remains of the city’s freedom,” said Republican Senator Josh Hawley.

The Senate also passed a resolution, introduced by Hawley, condemning the proposed security law.