The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to punish China for imposing a new sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.
Co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the bipartisan Hong Kong Autonomy Act will impose sanctions on banks doing business with Chinese officials involved in the implementation of Beijing’s new draconian national security law on Hong Kong.
The measure, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump, will also impose mandatory sanctions on banks that conduct “significant transactions” with people who infringe upon its autonomy.
The legislation passed unanimously in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, reflecting a bipartisan concern over what’s happening in Hong Kong.
“The standing committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, passed the law on June 30 via ceremonial votes. It criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment. Critics fear the law will be used to crack down on those critical of the Chinese Communist Party,” The Epoch Times reported.
“This is an urgent moment. Our timing could not be more critical,” said Van Hollen.
.@ChrisVanHollen's and my bipartisan #HongKong Autonomy Act is now on its way to the president to be signed into law! With our bill, the CCP will learn there are ramifications for repressing Hongkongers’ freedom. President Trump should sign this bill ASAP. We #StandWithHongKong.
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) July 2, 2020
“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,” said Toomey.
“Through this bill, the U.S. Senate makes clear which side we are on,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters during a press conference that the legislation will “help end China’s campaign of cruelty” against the city.
All freedom-loving people stand with the people of Hong Kong as they confront Beijing’s campaign against freedom. With my signature, the #HongKong Autonomy Act goes to the White House. The sanctions included within it are critical to holding China accountable. pic.twitter.com/prgInYxw3l
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 2, 2020
On the first day that the national security law was enforced, the Hong Kong Police Force said it had detained 10 people — six men and four women — on suspicion of violating the security law.
In total, about 370 were arrested for a number of offenses, some for “unlawful assembly … obstructing police, and possession of weapons,” officials said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, warned the United States that there would be consequences if the bill is signed or implemented.
Beijing will “resolutely and forcefully resist,” he said.
“China urges the U.S. to immediately change its course ….” Lijian said.
The bill has significant implications for financial institutions operating in Hong Kong as it penalizes lenders doing business with Chinese officials involved in implementing the controversial security law that protects the CCP.
According to a Bloomberg article, the bill puts $1.1 trillion funding for China’s largest banks at stake.
Global banks are also at risk, according to the report, as they may have Chinese officials and their relatives as customers.