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senate Bill S. 1838

Should the U.S. Sanction China if it Doesn’t Respect Democracy & Human Rights in Hong Kong?

Argument in favor

Hong Kong needs to remain a free, democratic, and autonomous entity but is facing increasing interference from the communist Chinese government. This bipartisan bill would show that the U.S. stands with Hong Kong by sanctioning those violating human rights and taking steps to protect American citizens and businesses in the event that extradition from Hong Kong to China is allowed.

Alex's Opinion
···
09/15/2019
I strongly urge you to support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The people of Hong Kong were promised “a high degree of autonomy” but the Chinese Communist Party has reneged on this promise and now Hong Kong is struggling to maintain their democratic rights. The right to free speech, a free press, freedom to assemble, and even access to an open and impartial legal system are under jeopardy. With your support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 we can advance the global democratic movement and protect the people of Hong Kong from losing their human rights. Please support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.
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Alex's Opinion
···
11/20/2019
ABSOLUTELY! CHINA IS THE REAL ENEMY. People need to get their heads out of their ass that think otherwise. We need to start holding them accountable for their scumbag trade tactics, human rights violations and outright theft of our intellectual property! Tariff the shit out of them. Without us their economy would collapse. The sooner we unscrew ourselves from China the better!
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Mohammed's Opinion
···
11/20/2019
Please sanction China for Human right violation. They are getting away from killing innocent
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Argument opposed

If China wants to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and status as a democratic government it’s going to do so whether or not the U.S. threatens sanctions in response. It may be a bipartisan effort, but this bill ultimately won’t do much to protect human rights or democracy in Hong Kong.

Jerry's Opinion
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11/20/2019
What hypocrisy when we have our own tin pot wannabe dictator who doesn’t give a crap about any human rights except his own to lie, steal, and malign. This is just another red herring from our country which has gleefully thrown away any global moral standing.
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Matthew's Opinion
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11/20/2019
Private businesses can decide if they want to trade and outsource to a China. But official US policy should be to engage all foreign countries.
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Jim's Opinion
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11/21/2019
hong kong is a part of china- not a part of the USA. Only the United Nations has authority to review a country's human rights record. This chauvinistic group think must stop
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house Passed November 20th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 417 Yea / 1 Nay
  • The senate Passed November 19th, 2019
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedJune 13th, 2019

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What is Senate Bill S. 1838?

This bill — the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act — would reaffirm the U.S. commitment to democracy, human rights, and autonomy of Hong Kong and aim to prevent the People’s Republic of China from undermining Hong Kong’s rights. It would require the administration to develop a strategy for protecting U.S. citizens and businesses from risks posed by Hong Kong allowing extradition to China, which would include revisions to the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition agreement or a State Dept. travel advisory.

The administration would be required to identify persons responsible for the abduction of Hong Kong booksellers and journalists and those complicit in suppressing basic freedoms, in addition to people complicit in the rendition of individuals to mainland China for trial or detention. Persons involved in such repression would be barred from entering the U.S. and all of their U.S.-based assets would be frozen.

The Secretary of State would be required to make an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy (including free and open elections) to justify special export & trade treatment current federal law grants Hong Kong. The Secretary of Commerce would be required to issue an annual report assessing whether Hong Kong is adequately enforcing both U.S. export regulations related to sensitive dual-use items and sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the United Nations, particularly those on Iran and North Korea. 

Additionally, this bill would: 

  • Clarify that visa applicants shouldn’t be denied visas based on the applicant’s arrest, detention, or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in the non-violent, pro-democracy advocacy, human rights, or the rule of law in Hong Kong.
  • Express the sense of Congress that the federal government should consider export controls on crowd control and surveillance equipment to Hong Kong (such as those used in China’s social credit system).
  • Express that Congress condemns the Chinese government’s use of state-controlled media to harass & intimidate pro democracy protesters and spread false information about its perceived enemies in Hong Kong. It would also call on the Secretary of State to consider denying work or travel visas to officials and journalists from such state-controlled media organizations. 
  • Coordinate with the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Japan, and South Korea regarding U.S. policy.

Impact

Hong Kong and its people; China; and the U.S.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1838

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced this bill to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy, democracy, and human rights from China’s repression:

“As the people of Hong Kong stand up in defense of their long-cherished autonomy and freedoms, I want them to know that the United States and the free world support them. Beijing continues to erode the autonomy that it had promised to Hong Kong in a legally-binding 1984 international treaty with Britain and under Hong Kong’s Basic Law. I urge Congress to pass this bill and send it to the President for enactment so the United States and partner nations can hold China fully accountable for its ongoing efforts to undermine Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.”

Lead Democratic cosponsor Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) added:

“For months now the world has witnessed the bravery of tens of thousands of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong whose quest for autonomy and democracy has been beaten back with brutal force. Our bill sends a strong message that Congress and the people of the United States stand in solidarity with them. The United States cannot stand idly by as China tramples on the basic human and civil rights of the people of Hong Kong and spreads disinformation in an attempt to discredit and silence their voices. Our bill demonstrates the Congress’ work across party lines to ensure robust affirmation of Hong Kong’s autonomy and to make clear that there must be consequences those who seek to further undermine it.”

This legislation has the support of 42 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate, including 21 Democrats, 20 Republicans, and one Independent — Sen. Angus King (I-ME).

A similar version of this bill, which was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and has the support of 47 bipartisan cosponsors, passed the House on a voice vote in June 2019. The House also passed bills to recognize U.S. support of the Hong Kong protesters’ key demands and block exports of crowd control items (like tear gas) for use by the Hong Kong Police.

The Chinese government hit back at the passage of those bills through state-owned media, calling them “arrogant and dangerous” activity that is “inescapably related to the overt or covert support from the U.S” to “anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong” and demonstrative of America’s “sinister intentions to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development.” 


Of Note: Hong Kong was a colony of the United Kingdom until it became a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on June 30, 1997. The Chinese and British governments agreed in their Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would continue to practice a democratic, capitalist system of government and law for at least 50 years after being reunified with socialist China. It has never been publicly stated what will happen to Hong Kong’s governance in 2047 (Macau, a similarly-governed former Portuguese colony, will be in the same situation in in 2049).

China's perceived  interference in Hong Kong's affairs have raised questions over whether the communist regime was abiding by the terms of the "one country, two systems" policy. A wave of protests swept Hong Kong recently after its pro-mainland chief executive Carrie Lam proposed a bill to allow extradition of people from Hong Kong to face trial in mainland China. After Lam announced she would postpone consideration of the bill, two million of Hong Kong’s seven million residents took to the streets, with many demanding the bill’s formal withdrawal and Lam’s resignation. Lam said the bill wouldn’t be reintroduced during her time in office if public outcry persists and initially stopped short of withdrawing the bill. Protesters’ demands broadened into five key demands:

  • Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill that originally sparked the protests;
  • Universal suffrage in local Hong Kong elections;
  • An investigation into the Hong Kong Police’s excessive use of force against demonstrators;
  • Release of those who have been arrested during the protests; and
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation.

Eventually, Lam relented and formally withdrew the bill, but since then clashes between protesters and the Hong Kong Police have become increasingly violent, heightening already present concerns that the Chinese military (the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)) will move in from the mainland to violently repress the protests like it did in Tiananmen Square.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Studio Incendo via Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

AKA

Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to amend the Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, and for other purposes.

    I strongly urge you to support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. The people of Hong Kong were promised “a high degree of autonomy” but the Chinese Communist Party has reneged on this promise and now Hong Kong is struggling to maintain their democratic rights. The right to free speech, a free press, freedom to assemble, and even access to an open and impartial legal system are under jeopardy. With your support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 we can advance the global democratic movement and protect the people of Hong Kong from losing their human rights. Please support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.
    Like (26)
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    What hypocrisy when we have our own tin pot wannabe dictator who doesn’t give a crap about any human rights except his own to lie, steal, and malign. This is just another red herring from our country which has gleefully thrown away any global moral standing.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Let’s practice what we preach
    Like (19)
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    ABSOLUTELY! CHINA IS THE REAL ENEMY. People need to get their heads out of their ass that think otherwise. We need to start holding them accountable for their scumbag trade tactics, human rights violations and outright theft of our intellectual property! Tariff the shit out of them. Without us their economy would collapse. The sooner we unscrew ourselves from China the better!
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    Please sanction China for Human right violation. They are getting away from killing innocent
    Like (18)
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    The brutality on the side of the police is absolutely barbaric and crosses so many human rights violations. China needs to know that the world and especially the US is there for Hong Kong. Democracy and freedom are what we preach. It’s what we should protect. Hong Kong is begging for our help in this fight, and we should absolutely support them 100%
    Like (13)
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    This is the worst possible time, but if push comes to shove, it’s the only moral thing to do. In years past we have not done our duty to try an help other groups who have been controlled, and even killed by other totalitarian governments, and we should be ashamed of ourselves for not doing the right thing, so now is the time to make up for it. When you consider the fact that we actually have traitors in our own government who are trying to overthrow our government so they can force a totalitarian government on us, what could be a better time to help the people in Hong Kong who are risking their lives go democracy? There is one question we have to ask ourselves. What are we doing to help the people who are suffering in the hell that is the Muslim world?
    Like (9)
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    China is the main enemy of the US and we need to use all of the tools that we have to counter there actions.
    Like (7)
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    I strongly urge solidarity with the citizens of Hong Kong. Failure to support HK protesters would be acquiescing to a tyrannical regime with little to no regard for human rights. The United States has long talked a big game about universal human rights and freedom from oppressive governments - let's put our money where our mouth is (for once).
    Like (7)
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    Yes. It’s about time for congress and the wh to stand up for what’s right.
    Like (6)
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    Tariffs and other taxes are the only way government policy is affected. Without sanctioning China, things will remain the same. Let’s do something about it for the good humankind. Not for the betterment of our economy, but for the fate of the world.
    Like (6)
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    I support any action, in any country, to end human rights violations. This is a scenario in which a quid pro quo is warranted. Want aid? End your attocities. However, in the case of China, it is difficult to sanction them because of our corporate investment in China, as well as China holding so much of our debt. To separate the financial from the political would be next to impossible
    Like (5)
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    Human rights and human dignity are what this nation was born from! It is our DNA. America should set and uphold those standards.
    Like (5)
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    Stand up for freedom. Sanction China.
    Like (5)
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    We need to defend democracy in all forms, in all countries. To not sanction a country for such atrocities like what is going on right now in Hong Kong would be undermining and devaluing democracy.
    Like (4)
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    Goes without saying right thing to do
    Like (4)
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    I am not real sure why we have not already taken at least some kind of action
    Like (4)
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    Yes, we should sanction China, but we need to start respecting democracy ourselves, but that's not likely to occur with Trump in office.
    Like (4)
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    Hell yes, we should sanction then.
    Like (4)
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    China are not honoring the agreement made at the return of the island and peninsula in 1997 with Great Britain. This agreement was ratified by the international community. The people in Hong Kong have come to expect some inherent freedoms and these should be expanded not taken away by an autocratic regime.
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