The US House of Representatives has passed a pro-democracy bill on Hong Kong on Tuesday, prompting an angry reaction from China. The bill, sought by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aims to defend civil rights in the semi-autonomous territory.
“Today we’re simply urging the Chinese president and the Hong Kong Chief Executive to faithfully honour the government’s promises” that Hong Kong’s rights and autonomy would be protected, Republican Representative Chris Smith, prime sponsor of the bill, said on the floor of the House.
“The House just sent a strong message to the people of Hong Kong: We stand with you in the fight for democracy and justice,” said Ben Ray Lujan, a House Democrat.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, needs to be passed by the Senate, before it can become law.
The law would end the Hong Kong-US special trading status unless the State Department certifies annually that city authorities are respecting human rights and the rule of law.
China expressed “strong indignation” over the passing of the act. “What Hong Kong faces is not the so-called human rights and democracy issue at all, but the issue of stopping violence, reinstating order and upholding the rule of law as soon as possible,” said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a statement.
Geng said the US should “stop meddling” and warned China would take “strong measures” to counter the proposed Hong Kong bill.
Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, initially against a now-dropped bid by its leaders to allow extraditions to the authoritarian Chinese mainland.
The months-long movement has expanded into a broader pro-democracy push in the territory where activists say freedoms are being eroded by Beijing, despite being written into a deal that governed Hong Kong’s 1997 transfer to China from British colonial rule.