The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Tuesday evening, Nov. 19, to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong amid a crackdown on the movement. China raised its voice to comdemn the human rights bill.
The “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act”, passed in a unanimous vote, would impose sanctions on individuals who commit human rights violations in Hong Kong and block them from entering the United States, The Hill reported.
The bill would also require the U.S. State Department to provide an annual report to lawmakers on whether Hong Kong remains “sufficiently autonomous” from China.
The legislation comes amid rising violence in Hong Kong, where police officials reportedly have trapped hundreds of protesters on the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University over a standoff.
“Today’s vote sends a clear message that the United States will continue to stand with the people of Hong Kong as they battle Beijing’s imperialism. The Chinese Communist Party’s quest for power across the region is a direct threat to America’s security and prosperity,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
In a tweet late Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wrote: “The people in Hong Kong are engaged in an existential battle for liberty. Today the Senate sent a clear message that America stands with Hong Kong by passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.”
The people in Hong Kong are engaged in an existential battle for liberty. Today the Senate sent a clear message that America stands with Hong Kong by passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. #HongKong #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/NPXApurdS8
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 19, 2019
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee added that “this legislation will hopefully be a shot in the arm for the millions who have been patiently waiting for the United States to once again serve as a beacon of light and solidarity in their push to defend their basic rights and autonomy.”
The Senate also passed a second bill by consent on Tuesday that would ban the United States from exporting certain munitions – including tear gas, pepper spray rubber bullets and stun guns – to Hong Kong police forces.
According to Reuters, these measures have drawn condemnation from Beijing.
In a statement released on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry said the U.S. Senate “neglects facts and truth, applies double standards and blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs.”
“It is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. China condemns and firmly opposes it,” the ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
China called on the United States to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s other internal affairs, threatening “the negative consequences will boomerang on itself”.