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Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law

Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law
© Greg Nash

The Senate passed legislation on Thursday to slap sanctions on Chinese officials who restrict Hong Kong's autonomy. 

The legislation, which is now headed to President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE's desk, would impose penalties on individuals who infringe on Hong Kong's semi-independence from China, as well as the banks who do business with them. 

"All of the prosperity and the elevation of human dignity that comes from human freedom and Democratic values from one model, that is the model that is up against the dark shadows of the authoritarian governments that are constantly pushing to systemically erode, corrode and warp the values and freedoms that we cherish. ... Through this bill, the U.S. Senate makes clear which side we're on," Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.) said from the Senate floor. 

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Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (D-Md.) added that passing the legislation would show that the "United States must stand with people of Hong Kong."  

The Senate initially passed sanctions legislation last week but because of a constitutional snag on how Congress passes bills that might generate revenue, the House had to pass its own version of the bill Wednesday and send it to the Senate. 

The Trump administration announced last week that it will impose visa restrictions on Chinese officials involved with efforts to exert more control over Hong Kong.

Congress's actions come as a recently enacted national security law in China has sparked concerns, both on Capitol Hill and internationally, that Beijing will expand its control over the city, which operates under a "one country, two systems" policy. Critics worry it will lead to restrictions on civil and political freedoms.

The Associated Press reported that Hong Kong police arrested dozens of protesters on Wednesday after the new national security law was put into effect by China.  

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina: US military presence in South China Sea a threat to peace, stability White House installs new leadership at federally-funded international broadcasters US carrier group enters South China Sea amid tensions between China, Taiwan MORE on Tuesday also condemned China for approving the controversial national security legislation. 

"The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to impose draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong destroys the territory’s autonomy and one of China’s greatest achievements," Pompeo said.