Hong Kong protests: US lawmakers pass Human Rights and Democracy Act

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The bill – which still needs to pass the upper house, the Senate – would mandate an annual review, to see whether Hong Kong had sufficient autonomy from the rest of China to justify its special trading status.

The lower chamber also approved stopping tear gas exports to Hong Kong.

On Monday, Hong Kong protesters took to the streets to support the US bill.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives – which was introduced in June as Hong Kong’s protests took hold – says Hong Kong enjoys “unique treatment under US law” .

“Hong Kong is part of China but has a largely separate legal and economic system,” it says.

“The [annual review] shall assess whether China has eroded Hong Kong’s civil liberties and rule of law as protected by Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”

Among other things, Hong Kong’s special trading status means it is not affected by US sanctions or tariffs placed on the mainland.
The bill also says the US should allow Hong Kong residents to obtain US visas, even if they have been arrested for being part of non-violent protests.

And it says anyone “responsible for abducting and torturing people for exercising internationally-recognized human rights” should be barred from the US – and have sanctions imposed.

The bill was supported by Republicans and Democrats and was passed by a “voice vote” in the House of Representatives, meaning a recorded vote was not needed.

“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights anyplace in the world,” said house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, said: “The house just sent a strong message to the people of Hong Kong: we stand with you in the fight for democracy and justice.”

Source: BBC News

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