Topline: The U.S. Senate Tuesday unanimously passed a bill supporting the pro-Democracy protesters in Hong Kong, though it is unclear if President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law if it comes to his desk.
The bill, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and was passed unanimously.
The bill mandates that the president impose sanctions against people found to be violating human rights in Hong Kong.
It would also require the State Department to give Congress annual reports assessing whether China has encroached on Hong Kong’s autonomy or clamped down on civil liberties.
Crucial quote: “Today, the United States 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,” Rubio said in a statement.
News peg: Pro-democracy protests erupted in the semiautonomous region of Hong Kong months ago over a bill that would extradite those accused of committing a crime in Hong Kong to be tried in mainland China. The worry was the law would be used to crack down on political opponents. While the bill has been withdrawn from consideration, the protests have become a larger movement against Beijing’s control over the city, sometimes devolving into violent clashes between protesters and police officers.
What’s next: Similar legislation was passed in the House of Representatives. Once both houses work out a compromise, the bill will go to Trump’s desk, although it is unclear whether Trump would sign it. The president has been relatively silent about the Hong Kong protests as he delicately tries to hammer out a trade deal with China’s President Xi Jinping. Last month, CNN reported, Trump promised Xi that U.S. officials would stay quiet about Hong Kong during trade talks