On Thursday, the US Senate passed a bill to punish China’s for its effort to increase control over Hong Kong. Beijing wants to formalize its intervention in Hong Kong’s legal system in specific cases. Though, full details about the legislation have not been released yet.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen introduced the bill titled “the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.” Notably, a Republican Senator blocked the bill last Wednesday, citing a White House request for amendments.
The bill strengthens the pre-existing ability to impose sanctions on China for breaking the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the agreement that requires China to treat Hong Kong using a “one country, two systems” model. Critics are concerned that recent moves by Beijing violate this agreement.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act would allow for sanctions against foreign persons for violating the Joint Delcation. It would also impose sanctions on financial institutions involved in significant transactions with those individuals.
Notably, Kurt Tong, the former US consul general to Hong Kong and Macau observed how quickly the Senate passed the bill. For Mr. Tong, the speed reflects the sense of urgency motivated by how fast Beijing is increasing its control over Hong Kong.
The House of Representatives still needs to pass its own version of the bill. Then it needs to go to conference with the Senate before it to moves forward. President Trump is said to be ready to sign it.