The United States Senate on Tuesday (19 November) unanimously passed legislation aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong, reports Reuters.
China considers its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters as an internal matter and the bill passed in the US Senate drew condemnation from Beijing.
Following the voice vote, the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” will now go to the House of Representatives, which approved its own version last month.
After both the Houses workout their difference on the language and reach a consensus, it can be sent to President Donald Trump for his consideration.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio said at the start of the brief Senate debate, “The people of Hong Kong see what’s coming - they see the steady effort to erode the autonomy and their freedoms,” and accused Beijing of being behind the “violence and repression.”
Another bill, aiming at banning the export of certain crowd-control munitions to Hong Kong police forces, was passed, unanimously, by the Senate. It puts a restriction on the export of items such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and stun guns.
The Bill mandates that, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would have to present evidence once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special US trading consideration that bolsters its status as a world financial centre.
The bill also has provisions that would provide for sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.
Beijing on Wednesday (20 November), condemned the bill passed in the US Senate and vowed strong counter-measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security.
“This act neglects facts and truth, applies double standards and blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
“It is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. China condemns and firmly opposes it.”
The United States must immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs, or “the negative consequences will boomerang on itself”, Geng added.
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