The United States Senate passed the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” on Wednesday (Nov 20).

Under US law, the bill aims to require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s status and assess the extent of China’s involvement in Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Government officials found to be harming human rights and democratic freedoms in Hong Kong will also be sanctioned under the bill.

US Senator Marco Rubio, a primary sponsor of the bill, said that the US “will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines [Hong Kong’s] autonomy.”

”The United States has treated commerce and trade with Hong Kong differently than it has commercial and trade activity with the mainland of China. But what’s happened over the last few years is the steady effort on the part of Chinese authorities to erode that autonomy and those freedoms,” he said as quoted in a report by Bloomberg.

The bill received unanimous support from the Senate and no senators objected to it.

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The US Senate also passed a bill banning the sale and export of munitions such as tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets to the Hong Kong police force.

The US House of Representatives also approved a similar bill in October. The House and Senate then need to coordinate and settle the differences in order to have the law considered by US President Donald Trump.

Trump has remained silent on the Hong Kong protests in light of the tense trade deal with China.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately expressed that it “strongly condemns and resolutely opposes” the US for passing the bill in support of the Hong Kong protesters./TISG

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