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House Passes Bill Supporting Hong Kong Protests

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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at defending human rights in Hong Kong, evoking s 'strong indignation' by China.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, sponsored by Republican Representative Chris Smith, passed easily by a voice vote in the lower House with bipartisan support.

The Bill, which will become law if passed by the Senate, would make Hong Kong's special trading status with the United States conditional.

The Bill was co-sponsored by Mc Govern and others.

Under the law, the U.S. State Department will have to certify every year that the authorities of the Self Administered Chinese Region are respecting human rights and the rule of law to make Hong Kong eligible for the preferential trade partner status.

The Act urges the State Department not to deny entry visas to applicants who have been arrested or detained for participating in nonviolent protest activities in Hong Kong.

The law requires an annual report from the Commerce Department on whether the Hong Kong government adequately enforces U.S. export controls and sanctions laws.

It also requires an assessment of whether U.S. origin items including software, technology and services have been transferred from Hong Kong to China in violation of U.S. law and have been used by China for mass surveillance, predictive policing, or for the social credit system.

The law includes a provision to impose sanction on persons in Hong Kong or China with visa denial if they are found responsible for the erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy and serious abuses of human rights.

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Smith urged the Chinese president and the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to faithfully honor the government's promises that Hong Kong's rights and autonomy would be protected.

"On one side, you have a repressive regime crushing democratic freedoms in #HongKong. On the other, you have young people speaking out for freedom & democratic reforms. Proud to stand with @RepMcGovern in support of today's bipartisan votes showing the House's commitment to HK," House speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter.

The months-long demonstrations started as a students' protest against extradition move to the authoritarian Chinese mainland. Although that move was dropped by the Hong Kong leaders, the protests grew in the region as a massive movement for democracy.

Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, initially against a now-dropped bid by its leaders to allow

The Chinese Government called on its U.S. counterpart to "stop meddling" in its internal matters.

"We express our strong indignation and firm opposition to the US House of Representatives' insistence on passing the so-called 'Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act'," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

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