Schumer seeks vote on bill reaffirming support for democracy in Hong Kong

Schumer seeks vote on bill reaffirming support for democracy in Hong Kong
© Aaron Schwartz

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Progressives push for fossil subsidy repeal in spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday called for a vote on bipartisan legislation on Hong Kong when Congress returns as the city faces weeks of sometimes-violent protests by pro-democracy advocates.

“When the Senate returns, Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell should quickly bring up for debate and a vote the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. This is bipartisan legislation that will send a clear message to President Xi,” Schumer said in a statement, referring to the Chinese president. 

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The legislation, introduced by Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE (R-Fla.) would require the secretary of State to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy. Protesters are worried that China is slowly eroding the "one country, two systems" principle by which Hong Kong has been allowed to maintain many of its more democratic features. 

The bill would tie that certification to a 1992 law that gives Hong Kong special treatment in trade matters. It would also ensure the U.S. government does not deny visa applicants from Hong Kong if they have been arrested for taking part in non-violent protests.

“China’s tightening grip around Hong Kong to strangle democracy and dissent is a desperate act of a brutal authoritarian regime," Schumer added Friday. "For months now, the people of Hong Kong have taken to the streets to stand up for their democratic rights. The American people must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong."

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (N.J.), also plans to prioritize the legislation when Congress is back in session, his office said in a statement Friday.

The pressure from Democrats comes as the city braces for another round of protests. Reuters reported on Friday that China rejected a proposal by Hong Kong's government to appease the protesters and end the standoff. 

Protesters have taken to the streets for weeks in pro-democracy demonstrations. The protests were originally sparked by a bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to China. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has declared the bill "dead," but the protests have continued over a host of other issues involving human rights and democracy in the city.

Reuters reported that China instructed Hong Kong's government not to give in to the protesters' demands.