Photo: Dong Fang

The House of Representatives approved a bill imposing sanctions on groups undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. The bill is another step in escalating U.S.-China tensions. 

On Wednesday the House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill to rebuke China as the country clamps down on Hong Kong’s autonomy. 

The bill will impose sanctions on groups undermining the city’s freedom, and targeting police units that exerted force on protesters in Hong Kong as well as officials of the Chinese Communist Party. 

What happened?

Last week China passed a strict national security law on Hong Kong, a city which maintained its own governing and economic systems while simultaneously considered a special administrative region within China. The new law grants Beijing the power to crack down on political crimes and dole out punishments like life imprisonment for more grave offenses that the new law outlines. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill “an urgently needed response to the cowardly Chinese government’s passage of its so-called ‘national security’ law, which threatens the end of the ‘one country, two systems’ promised exactly 23 years ago today.”

Pelosi condemned China’s new law in a statement released last Thursday; “All freedom-loving people must condemn this horrific law,” she wrote.

Senators will vote to approve the bill

Senators will vote to approve the bill as soon as Thursday before sending it to the White House. Lawmakers from both parties urged the Trump administration to take action against China for its human rights violations at home and in Hong Kong. 

Last Friday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. will impose visa restrictions on “current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

China has since retaliated by imposing visa restrictions on Americans it sees as meddling over Hong Kong, targeting those undermining the introduction of the national security law.   

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “no matter how Hong Kong separatists squawk, and no matter what kind of pressure is exerted by external anti-China forces, their scheme to obstruct the passage of the Hong Kong national security law will never succeed and the bill is but a piece of waste paper.”

Candy Chan is studying History with a focus on War and Revolution at Barnard College. She is currently a staff writer at the Columbia Daily Spectator, covering issues pertaining to Columbia's...

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