Republicans to introduce legislation condemning China's actions in Hong Kong

Republicans to introduce legislation condemning China's actions in Hong Kong
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Republican senators on Thursday will introduce legislation condemning China's actions in Hong Kong and calling for sanctions on officials who stifle the speech of pro-democracy protesters. 

Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal Hillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and John CornynJohn CornynTrump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn On The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal On The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA MORE (R-Texas) will introduce the Hong Kong Be Water Act, according to a statement from Hawley's office. 

The legislation will condemn the Chinese government for "violating its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984" and the basic law of Hong Kong.

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It will also call for sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials who are "responsible for suppressing or facilitating the suppression of Hongkongers’ freedoms of speech, association, assembly, procession, and demonstration."

The bill will additionally call for freezing assets of Chinese nationals and state-owned enterprises that have aided in suppressing the freedom of speech in Hong Kong. 

Hawley said in a statement that during a recent visit to Hong Kong, he was "alarmed by how quickly the situation has deteriorated."

"Hong Kong is rapidly becoming a police state. We must send a signal to the world that the United States will stand with Hongkongers as they stand up to the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. 

The senator also noted that protesters told him it was important to "be water," or move quickly and be fluid when confronted by police. 

Scott said in the statement that during a recent trip of his own to the city, he "heard horrible stories of police brutality, threats, and intimidation."

"As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue," he added. "I’m proud to sponsor the Hong Kong Be Water Act as we stand with the brave Hong Kongers fighting for freedom and basic human rights that are being suppressed by Communist China.”

The sometimes violent protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months. They began with a now-shelved bill that would have allowed extradition to China, but have since become a larger pro-democracy movement. Demonstrators have demanded universal suffrage and an independent probe into alleged police brutality.

The issue gained additional attention in the U.S. after a Houston Rockets basketball team executive tweeted in support of the demonstrators this month, leading to a freeze in ties between China and the team. 

Hawley last week previously delivered a speech on the Senate floor in which he spoke out in favor of the Hong Kong protesters and also called for sanctions. 

In a Fox News op-ed, he also called for the NBA to "show a little American independence and tell Beijing where to step off."

The Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 provided for the end of British rule of Hong Kong and guaranteed it certain rights under Chinese rule.