Senate Democrats and Republicans set aside their differences on Tuesday to pass a bill in support of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
The bill easily passed the chamber via voice vote (without objection) to recognize and support those who have been protesting for human rights in the country. The protests have continued for months, causing the Hong Kong and neighboring Chinese governments to use increasingly violent measures to suppress them. These efforts include having law enforcement officials wearing full riot gear beat, drag, and arrest the protesters.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act will now go to the House of Representatives, which has already passed a similar version of the bill, ABC News reports. More than just offer support, ABC News reports the bill will enact “sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and require an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.”
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) November 20, 2019
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is one of the 50 co-sponsors of the bill, said: “The passage of this bill is an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations.”
According to the report, China has threatened “strong countermeasures” should the bill ultimately be signed into law by President Trump.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 20, 2019
ABC News reports:
Mass protests in Hong Kong started in June over a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Activists saw the legislation as part of a continuing erosion of rights and freedoms that Hong Kong was promised it could keep when Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997.
China has opposed all criticism of the handling of the Hong Kong protests as unwarranted interference in its domestic affairs.
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In a statement Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the aim of the bill was to “bolster anti-China, extremist and violent radicals who attempt to disrupt Hong Kong (and) damage Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability” as part of a plot to contain China’s development.
The Hong Kong government released a statement expressing its own displeasure with such actions from the U.S. government, saying they are “unnecessary and unwarranted” and will “harm the relations and common interests between Hong Kong and the U.S.”