US Senate passes Hong Kong rights bill
International Live: The US Senate unanimously adopted legislation Tuesday supporting “human rights and democracy” in Hong Kong and threatening to revoke its special economic status, angering China which promptly summoned a US diplomat and threatened countermeasures.
The lawmakers also approved a measure that would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment that have been used by security forces to suppress pro-democracy protests for nearly six months.
Chinese vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu summoned the acting US charge d’affaires, William Klein, to lodge a “strong protest” and demand that the US prevent the bill from becoming law. US ambassador Terry Branstad was out of the country. “Otherwise, the Chinese side will take strong measures to resolutely counter it, and the US side must bear all the consequences,” the statement said.
The Senate “sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long- cherished freedoms: We hear you, we continue to stand with you and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio said. Passage of the bill marks “an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations.”
The House and Senate will now harmonize the texts into a single bill to pass Congress and go to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.