The US House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that will penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials involved in suppressing Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. President Donald Trump is excepted to sign it into law on Thursday.
The sanctions are a response to China passing a sweeping new Hong Kong national security law Tuesday night. The legislation effectively strips the territory of its autonomy and their one country, two systems model.
Chinese officials drafted the law in secrecy. It was made public only when it took effect at 11 pm on Tuesday.
The regulation takes direct aim at pro-democracy protesters and has vague wording that gives Chinese authorities extensive and discretionary powers. It also allows Beijing to intervene in certain trials that are deemed “complex,” and paves the way for defendants to stand trial in mainland China, where punishments are harsher.
‘Brutal, Sweeping Crackdown’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned China’s actions at a House Foreign Affairs hearing Wednesday. “The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised,” she said.
The US House’s bill passed on July 1, on the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s independence and handover from Britain to China.
The unanimous passing reflects collective concern over the rights of the most autonomous Chinese city and major international finance center.
2. From now on, #Hongkong enters a new era of reign of terror, just like #Taiwan’s White Terror period in history, with arbitrary prosecutions, black jails, secret trials, forced confessions, media clampdowns and political censorship.
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) June 30, 2020
Hong Kong activist and former leader of the Chinese pro-democracy Demosisto Party Joshua Wong spoke out against China’s new security law, alleging that Hong Kong was soon to “enter a new reign of terror.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also condemned China’s law during a news conference on Wednesday, calling Hong Kong “just another communist-run city.” He reaffirmed that Hong Kong would be stripped of its special economic status.