U.S. Congress paves way for new sanctions against China over Hong Kong

House and Senate versions still have to be reconciled

Protests on Hong Kong's MTR system Tuesday (July 30).

Protests on Hong Kong's MTR system Tuesday (July 30). (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Both houses of the United States Congress are working on measures which could open the door to new sanctions against China, possibly in connection to the recent protests in Hong Kong, reports said Tuesday (July 30).

The House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 have only two items in common regarding sanctions, namely provisions for measures targeting North Korea and fentanyl drug traffickers, according to the Cleary International Trade and Sanctions Watch.

The Senate version also allows for sanctions related to the present situation in Hong Kong, where initial criticism of the anti-extradition bill has grown into daily protests.
According to the Senate bill, the U.S. “should impose financial sanctions, visa bans, and other punitive economic measures against all individuals or entities violating the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, consistent with United States and international law.”

On the subject of Chinese electronics firm Huawei, the House version of the act would require the secretary of commerce to certify that the company and its officials “have not engaged in sanctions violations or theft of U.S. intellectual property” in the past five years and that it does not pose an ongoing threat to the telecoms of the U.S. and its allies. The Senate has already presented similar proposals in separate legislation.

The differences between the House and the Senate versions still have to be resolved, with a final version expected this fall after Congress' Labor Day recess, according to Cleary International Trade and Sanctions Watch.