The Senate today unanimously passed legislation in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters by empowering the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Hong Kong or Chinese officials who take actions that violate human rights.
“The U.S. Senate took a stand today in support of the Hong Kong people,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said in a statement. “Passing this legislation is an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental freedoms."
“As the situation in Hong Kong deteriorates, China must understand that the United States of America is committed to the promised freedom and autonomy for Hong Kong," added Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who also sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the secretary of State to certify, at least once a year, whether Hong Kong continues to warrant special treatment under U.S. law based on a number of criteria, including the autonomy of its government decision-making related to human rights, law enforcement and extradition requests. The House passed similar legislation in October. The chambers now have to fashion and pass a compromise bill to send to President Donald Trump's desk.
The legislation would also mandate that the president impose sanctions against foreign persons determined to be responsible for extrajudicial rendition, arbitrary detention, torture or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, or other gross violations of human rights in Hong Kong. Other provisions would require the administration to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress on violations of U.S. export controls laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in Hong Kong.