Today the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, tabled by Senator Toomey and Senator Van Hollen, alongside Senator Hawley’s strong Hong Kong resolution, passed the floor of Senate, sending a signal that the United States stands with Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, introduced by United States Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), defends Hong Kong against Beijing’s National Security Law by imposing mandatory sanctions on entities that violate China’s obligations to Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, including police units cracking down on Hong Kong protestors or Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing the National Security Law on Hong Kong. The legislation would also impose mandatory secondary sanctions on banks that do “significant transactions” with persons, companies or entities involved in suppressing Hong Kong’s freedoms and violating the city’s autonomy.
“Today, the Senate stood up to the communist regime in Beijing and stood with the people of Hong Kong,” said Senator Toomey. “The mandatory sanctions established in this bill will punish those in China who seek to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy or erode the basic freedoms promised to Hongkongers. I very much appreciate the great work done by Senator Van Hollen in helping to get this bill passed and I hope the House will take it up and pass it in short order, so the president can sign it.”
The Act was passed on the Floor of the Senate alongside a resolution introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Senator Hawley’s resolution states unequivocally that passage of this proposed law would put the Beijing in direct violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law. The resolution also calls upon all free nations to stand firm against the CCP’s campaign to destroy Hongkongers’ basic liberties and human rights.
Johnny Patterson, Director of Hong Kong Watch says: “We believe this legislation is an important step towards the USA creating a calibrated and targeted sanctions program which acts as a genuine deterrent against the ongoing infringement of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The passage of National Security legislation is a hammer blow to Hong Kong’s freedoms and needs a proportionate response.
“Among other things, the legislation will give new powers to impose secondary sanctions on financial institutions complicit in the abuse of rights in Hong Kong. Many of these are Chinese state-owned firms that use Hong Kong as a base for raising foreign capital, and so this is will ensure that the CCP feel a direct cost if they continue to violate the basic rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers. It is more subtle than the US revoking Hong Kong’s special customs status, and more targeted.
“Passed alongside the Hawley resolution, today’s actions by the Senate provide a significant signal that the US stands with Hong Kong at this difficult time. It is vital that Speaker Pelosi now fast-tracks the legislation through the House.”
Hong Kong Watch