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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 TrumpGOP-led Maricopa County board decries election recount a 'sham' Analysis: Arpaio immigration patrol lawsuit to cost Arizona county at least 2 million Conservatives launch 'anti-cancel culture' advocacy organization 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 ToomeySasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote Philly GOP commissioner on censures: 'I would suggest they censure Republican elected officials who are lying' Toomey censured by several Pennsylvania county GOP committees over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) said from the Senate floor. 

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Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenTensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Financial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted Van Hollen says members should stand with Cheney on election claims 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 PompeoSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans US Olympic Committee urges Congress not to boycott Games in China Pompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' 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.