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US Senate clears Hong Kong Human Rights Bill, China fumes

Soon after the US Senate move, China summoned a US embassy representative to protest against its approval of the bill

Wednesday November 20, 2019 6:42 PM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

US Senate Bill on Hong Kong

Washington: The US Senate has unanimously passed a legislation aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong amid the ongoing unrest in the China-administered financial hub.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Bill -- if it becomes law -- would require an annual review of Hong Kong special status under the US law, CNN reported.

The bill, passed on Tuesday, is seen as a challenge to the Chinese government amid tense US-China relations.

The US treats Hong Kong, which has its own legal systems, differently from the Chinese mainland, as far as trading is concerned.

Under the bill, the US President can slap sanctions against officials responsible for arbitrary detention of any individual of Hong Kong or human rights violations in the former British colony.

The bill also lays out a process for the US President to impose sanctions and travel restrictions on those who are found to be knowingly responsible for threatened or carried out arbitrary detention of any individual in Hong Kong, or other violations of internationally recognised human rights in the former British colony.

Besides, the bill would also provide for sanctions against those who violate the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration -- the pact under which Britain handed Hong Kong back to China.

Hong Kong has been witnessing unrest for the last six months. Pro-democracy protesters have accused China of violating human rights and encroaching on Hong Kong's protected freedom.

China summons US embassy official

Soon after the US Senate move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned William Klein, acting charge d'affaires of the US Embassy in China.

"We strongly urge the US side to immediately take effective measures to prevent this act from becoming a law, immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's other internal affairs. Otherwise, China will have to take strong countermeasures and the U.S. side must face all the consequences," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said.

"The US Senate's move, which has blatantly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China's other internal affairs, is in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, and China firmly opposes it," he noted.

Hong Kong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs, brooking no interference from any foreign government or foreign forces, Ma said.

Ma stressed that the Chinese government has unswerving determination to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement "one country, two systems" policy and oppose any external force in interfering in Hong Kong's affairs.

"China hereby warns the United States that any attempt to destroy Hong Kong's prosperity and stability or obstruct China's development is doomed to fail and will only end up hurting itself," he said.

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