US passes sanctions over Hong Kong as nations condemn new law

US passes sanctions over Hong Kong as nations condemn new law
Protesters rallied against the new law in Hong Kong and police made several hundred arrests. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times: The US House of Representatives has approved new sanctions related to Hong Kong after China imposed a security law that was condemned by countries around the world.

The sanctions allow punishment to the banks that do business with Chinese officials. The measurements have to be approved by the Senate before going to the President.

Critics say China’s new security law for Hong Kong ends freedoms that were guaranteed for 50 years when British rule ended in 1997.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised.”

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the passing of the law was a “clear and serious breach” of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 under that declaration, with certain freedoms guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.

After Beijing passed the law, the UK has offered residency, and then citizenship, to up to three million Hong Kongers, but China on Thursday threatened “corresponding measures” to block the citizenship plan.

Chinese Embassy in the UK said: “If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges, as well as international law and basic norms.”

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old man from Hong Kong has been arrested on a plane while trying to flee to London. He was suspected of stabbing a police officer during Wednesday’s protests.

The suspect, known only as Mr Wong, was detained on the plane moments before it set off.

China has been defending the security law saying it was necessary to stop the type of protests seen in Hong Kong during much of 2019.

And despite China is getting condemned by West, more than 50 countries, led by Cuba, supported China’s decision at the UN this week.

What does the US law say?

The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was passed in the House, imposes sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials who are involved in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

”The law was an “urgently needed response to [China’s passing] of its so-called ‘national security’ law… which is purpose built to dismantle democratic freedoms in Hong Kong”, Ms Pelosi said.

The US had already began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status, even before the bill was signed. The measures included halting defence exports and restricting the territory’s access to high-technology products.

The US had also signed into law the Human Rights and Democracy Act last year, supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

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