US senators threaten to sanction China if new HK security law passed

US senators draft bill that would sanction CCP officials, banks if new Hong Kong security law passed

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Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Senator Chris Van Hollen. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — U.S. Senators announced on Thursday (May 21) they will start drafting a bill that would impose sanctions on Chinese leaders if they go ahead and pass a draconian security bill aimed at Hong Kong.

On Thursday evening, Zhang Yesui, a spokesperson for China's National People's Congress (NPC), announced that it will push through a national security law that will impose harsh new restrictions on the people of Hong Kong. The new law would ban sedition, secession, and subversion and could bypass Hong Kong's Legislative Council, violating the Basic Law and destroying the tattered remnants of the "one country, two systems" framework.

That same day, Senators Chris Van Hollen and Pat Toomey quickly responded by announcing that if Beijing goes ahead with the law, they will draft legislation titled the "Hong Kong Autonomy Act," which they said was designed to "defend Hong Kong’s autonomy against increasingly brazen interference from the Chinese Community Party," according to Van Hollen's website. The act would impose sanctions on Chinese entities that violate the Basic Law and the Joint Declarations and the banks that do business with them.

Van Hollen pointed out that millions of Hong Kong citizens took to the streets to protest for democratic rights last year, and despite a violent crackdown and erosion of civil liberties, the protests have continued. He then accused Beijing of imposing the new law by fiat to "criminalize political dissent" and said the Senate's new act will "impose serious penalties on those working to strip Hong Kong of its autonomy."

For his part, Toomey said, "The communist regime in Beijing would like nothing more than to extinguish the autonomy of Hong Kong and the rights of its people." He described Hong Kong as a "canary in the coal mine for Asia," in that China's actions in the former British colony could be a harbinger of more aggression against other democracies in the region.

The new legislation would impose sanctions on persons and entities that participate in the violation of China's legal obligations to Hong Kong. Examples given include police units, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, and banks that engage in "significant transactions" with such persons and entities.

In addition, the new act would support the legal entry of Hong Kong citizens who are fleeing persecution or violence inflicted upon them by the communist regime.