Senate sides with Hong Kong, passes rights bill

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

People rise in support of Hong Kong at an NBA game this year.
(Photo: ChinaAid)
(Washington, D.C.—Nov. 20, 2019) The U.S. Senate unanimously passed an act last night that will subject Hong Kong to an annual human rights review. These results are a major win for Hong Kong’s protesters, who are locked in a battle with their government.

The fight began this earlier this year, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam proposed a bill that would have allowed Chinese courts to try Hong Kong residents.

China is known for targeting religious people and political activists. In contrast, Hong Kong has its own courts and legislative system, which has helped protect the rights of its people.

The bill prompted millions to take to Hong Kong’s streets, clashing with the police sent to disperse them. But the people were determined, and the demonstrations continued, forcing Lam to drop the bill.

Still, the bill’s proposal rang alarm bells for many Hong Kong residents. They drafted a list of five demands, including the resignation of key officials and an investigation into police brutality. With this list, they continued to protest.

Just this week, hundreds of them were trapped on the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Police encouraged them to surrender, and some were arrested.

As the action escalated, the rest of the world began to take notice.

Senator Marco Rubio put forth the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. It permitted the U.S. to impose sanctions and other consequences on Hong Kong for failure to uphold its citizens’ rights.

The Senate voted to pass the Act on Tuesday. The House of Representatives is now debating on whether or not to pass the Senate’s version of the bill.

It will then go to President Trump.

As of late, the U.S. president has remained quiet on Hong Kong in order to mend trade deals with China. Beijing has ramped up pressure on the U.S., even summoning an American official and threatening repercussions.

Trump reserves the right to veto the bill, but if he chooses to sign, it will become law.

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