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 John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally 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 ToomeyDunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy NSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show MORE (R-Pa.) said from the Senate floor. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenExclusive: Democrats seek to increase racial diversity of pandemic relief oversight board Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBeirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally Advocacy groups come out against Trump pick for ambassador to Germany US pledges million in disaster aid to Lebanon 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.