The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a series of measures to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, drawing threats of retaliation from China.
Three bills got the House approval on separate voice votes on Tuesday, Oct. 15, The Associated Press reported.
The first measure condemns China’s intrusions into Hong Kong’s affairs and supports the right of people to protest. The second bill requires regular evaluations by the U.S. secretary of state of Hong Kong’s special economic and trade status, providing a check on China’s attempts to interfere in Hong Kong society. The third piece of legislation would ensure that U.S. weapons are not used by police against protesters.
The votes came after Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters were fighting a human rights crackdown by China and its aggressive attempts to enforce control over the semi-autonomous territory for months.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bravery of young protesters in Hong Kong stands in contrast to “the cowardly government that refuses to respect the rule of law” and the “one country, two systems” policy, calling the House measures important reminders of U.S. support for human rights in China.
“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interests, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on behalf of human rights any place in the world,” she said.
The three bills now head to the Senate for approval.
China made a quick response, threatening it would retaliate if U.S. lawmakers follow through with passing the legislations.
In a statement on its website on Wednesday, Oct. 16, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Hong Kong is not facing the issues of “so-called human rights and democracy,” but rather violence.
Reuters citing the ministry’s spokesman Geng Shuang said China-U.S. relationship would be damaged should the legislations become law, urging U.S. lawmakers to stop interfering in its affairs.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam also defended its political system, saying the U.S. Congress should not interfere in the territory’s affairs in any form.