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Congress Passes Hong Kong Rights Bill

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Both Houses of Congress have passed a Bill that declares solidarity with the student protesters' fight for human rights and democracy in Hong Kong and making its special status granted by Washington conditional.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by a 417 to 1 vote, a day after the Senate unanimously approved the legislation.

The amended bipartisan bill will become law after President Donald Trump signs it.

The House also approved another Bill banning sales of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment used by Hong Kong security forces.

Building on the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, this amended bill would require the Secretary of State to annually review whether Hong Kong still retains enough autonomy to warrant favorable trade status from Washington, and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous Chinese territory fails to ensure freedom and human rights.

It also calls for imposing sanctions against officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong.

In addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress on violations of U.S. export controls laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in Hong Kong.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a sponsor of the Senate bill, applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for taking swift action to send this bill directly to President Trump's desk for signature.

"As the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong government officials continue to violate the basic rights of the Hong Kong people and erode Hong Kong's autonomy, the United States must make clear that we continue to stand with Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms," he said in a statement. He urged the President to sign this critical bill into law as soon as possible.

"Both the United States Senate and House of Representatives have now demonstrated bipartisan solidarity with the people of Hong Kong as they stand up for their freedoms and basic human rights," Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) said.

It's what we do as a democracy - support each other, especially when authoritarian regimes try to impose their will on free peoples

Provoked by the measures, the Chinese government summoned acting US charge d'affaires William Klein to lodge its protest.

The rights bill passed as around hundred pro-democracy protesters are held up inside a besieged Hong Kong university in a four-day standoff against police.

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