Potential sanctions against officials, foreign financial institutions . . .
The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on Thursday to counter Beijing’s imposition of the National Security Law on Hong Kong. The Act will reinforce the U.S. government’s ability to enact sanctions against individuals or entities that “materially contribute to China’s failure to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy,” including prohibiting designated individuals from holding or trading any asset in U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting foreign financial institutions from receiving loans from U.S. lenders. The Hong Kong government criticized the move as being “totally unacceptable” and urged the U.S. to refrain from disrupting the normal operations of financial institutions.
More details of the Hong Kong National Security Law . . .
The U.S. Senate’s latest move came as more details of Hong Kong’s National Security Law were unveiled this past week. Some of the law’s controversial aspects include allowing the city’s chief executive to appoint judges to hear cases related to national security, giving mainland authorities the power to exercise jurisdiction over select cases, and establishing a national security office for Hong Kong. However, the full draft of the law has yet to be published. A former vice-chair of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Committee said the draft is being kept secret to avoid another wave of violence.
A series of U.S. sanctions . . .
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act is Washington’s latest move aimed at countering China’s human rights issues. Earlier this month, President Trump signed into law the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, while last November, he signed into law the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The latter provides for blocking assets and revoking visas for officials undermining Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy. Following the Senate’s latest move, the U.S. State Department announced new visa restrictions aimed at Chinese Communist Party officials and their family members for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and human rights. With the Hong Kong National Security Law expected to come into force in the coming months, it is likely that the U.S. will continue to harden its stance with ongoing, strengthened, and targeted sanctions.
- BNN Bloomberg: China confirms security law will override Hong Kong legal system
- South China Morning Post: Hong Kong slams US’ Autonomy Act, urges Washington to refrain from measures that could affect financial institution operations
- U.S. Congress: Hong Kong Autonomy Act