The US Senate unanimously approved a bill that provides for sanctions to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy from the Beijing squeeze.
After the measures to support Hong Kong demonstrators approved in November, the Senate voted in favor of a measure that authorizes sanctions against Chinese executives who violate international obligations against the former British colony. To enter into force, the text must be approved by the House and then promulgated by President Trump.
It is a bipartisan measure, supported at the same time by Democrats and Republicans, eager to increase pressure on Beijing beyond the measures already announced by the US government after the controversial national security law that will give China more control over the special region where for a year great protests have been going on asking for more democracy. For activists, this is an attempt by the Chinese government to end the mobilization and violate the rights recognized by the Hong Kong Basic Law, such as freedom of speech.
The text passed to the US Senate will allow Washington to sanction any public or private entity which materially contributes to violating Chinese obligations towards Hong Kong. Examples include “leaders of the Chinese Communist Party responsible for imposing a national security law in Hong Kong”, or the police units implicated in the crackdown on demonstrators. Especially banks that conduct “significant transitions” with sanctioned individuals or entities will also be hit by punitive measures. “What the Chinese government is going to do in Hong Kong is unacceptable. It is withdrawing the rights of Hong Kongers, “said Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, one of the authors of the law. “It is important to do something that shows the Chinese government that if it continues along this path it will pay the price,” he added, reproaching the Trump administration for showing itself too cautious so far in its measures against Beijing.
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