In yet another significant development, the U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan bill that imposes mandatory sanctions on companies and people that back China’s effort to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The bill also includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone found to be backing any crackdown on the territory’s autonomy, thus effectively limiting their access to U.S. dollar transactions.
The “Hong Kong Autonomy Act” passed by unanimous consent. To become law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump.
In a statement, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, a lead sponsor, said the legislation would send a clear message to Beijing that there would be consequences if it acts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The relations between the United States and China have taken a beating after China resisted efforts to trace the source of the coronavirus, which emerged from its province in Wuhan.
China’s belligerent geopolitical moves, including that of its security legislation on Hong Kong, prompted the U.S. Administration to initiate a process aimed at eliminating special economic treatment that has allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.
“This could be our last opportunity to stay Beijing’s hand before it destroys what is left of freedom in the city,” said Republican Senator Josh Hawley.