Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Rep. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Rep. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) are seeking to have the Hong Kong rights bill quickly passed by the Senate.
The bill supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong was passed unanimously by the House in mid-October, which would place Hong Kong’s special treatment by the United States under tighter scrutiny.
The two senior senators reportedly began the process on Thursday amid the escalating violence reported in the Chinese-ruled city.
The legislation would require the secretary of state to certify that at least once a year that Hong Kong still retains enough autonomy to warrant the special U.S. trading consideration that bolsters its status as a world financial center. It would impose sanctions on officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong as well.
Risch said he is a co-sponsor and “strong proponent” of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. He stressed that America should voice its support to the people of Hong Kong, stating, “The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and say this is wrong, we stand with the people of Hong Kong.”
Rubio expected to pass the bill next Monday, saying, “If no senator objects it could pass as early as next Monday.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has expressed his support to have a timely vote, “I’m eager to continue working with colleagues such as Senator Risch, Senator (Lindsey) Graham, Senator Rubio, and others toward a strong and procedurally workable solution,” McConnell said.
Once passed in the Senate, the legislation will go to the White House for President Trump to sign into law or veto.
Counterattack from Beijing
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China opposes the U.S.’s legislation and urged that it not be passed into law. He also warned that it would harm the bilateral relations, saying, “If the legislation ultimately passes into law, it won’t only harm Chinese interests and Sino-U.S. relations, it will seriously harm the United States’ own interests. On the wrong actions of the U.S. side, China will inevitably take vigorous measures to firmly respond, to staunchly safeguard our sovereignty, security, and development interests.”
Speaking in Brasília, Brazil, for the 11th BRICS summit, an economic forum involving leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, held on Nov. 13–14, Chinese leader Xi Jinping stated that stopping the protests is Hong Kong’s “most urgent task.”
He added the Chinese regime would “determinedly oppose any foreign forces interfering in Hong Kong issues.”
Over the course of many weeks there have been more and more violent clashes in the streets of the special region by individuals believed to be acting under the orders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the police who began to violently repress the protests and stop hundreds of activists.
In recent weeks the brutality with which Hong Kong police have been repressing public demonstrations has intensified considerably to the point that on Monday a police officer shot an unarmed young demonstrator at point-blank range in the middle of the street.
Demosisto also warned of the brutal attacks taking place on Tuesday at the University of Hong Kong, a scenario that is dangerously reminiscent of the bloody repression of Chinese students at Tiananmen in Beijing.
“Police advanced CUHK firing tear gas and multiple rubber bullet despite principal Rocky Tuan’s attempted negotiation,” wrote Joshua Wong, representative of the activist organization on Twitter.