US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill that supports pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, a move that is bound to anger China. The legislation proposes to impose sanctions on officials committing human rights violations against pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong. It was passed by both the chambers of the US Congress’ House of Representatives (417-1) and the Senate unanimously.
The ‘Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019’, which reaffirms and amends the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, specifies US policy towards Hong Kong, directs assessment of the political developments in Hong Kong, and other purposes.
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump, who had indicated earlier this week that he would not sign the bill, said in a statement.
“They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all,” the president said.
Top American lawmakers, authors of the bill, applauded Trump for signing the legislation into law.
“The US now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs,” Senator Marco Rubio said.
“Following last weekend’s historic elections in Hong Kong that included record turnout, this new law could not be more timely in showing strong US support for Hong Kongers’ long-cherished freedoms,” Rubio said.
According to Senator Ben Cardin, the law sends a strong message to the demonstrators in Hong Kong, the government of Hong Kong, as well as the Communist Party of China that the United States was not only watching, but stands with demonstrators as they march for their autonomy, for their democracy and for their human rights.
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch said this law made it abundantly clear that the US support the people of Hong Kong.
“The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental human rights,” Risch said.
“The signing of this legislation into law ensures the United State finally sends a clear and unequivocal message to the people of Hong Kong: We are with you,” Ranking Member Bob Menendez said.