WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congress this week signaled support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“We stand with you,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said during a Thursday press conference about the bill. “Let the bells of freedom ring in Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would apply sanctions against Chinese officials who commit human rights violations against protesters and puts pressure on China to continue the special democratic rights currently enjoyed in Hong Kong, which, though part of China, has autonomy. The bill had nearly unanimous support in Congress.
“A day of great bipartisanship,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.
President Donald Trump has not said he will sign the bill, and Chinese officials hope he won’t. Beijing says it will derail talks amid an ongoing trade war.
Lawmakers are not worried about that.
“I think we should be standing up to Beijing at every opportunity,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said. “They’ve been taking away our jobs, they’ve been stealing our intellectual property.”
He called on the United Nations to join the U.S. in condemning China’s continued violations.
“85,000 Americans live in Hong Kong so it’s time to put the nations of the world on record,” Hawley said.
Bill Reinsch, a trade expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said China can’t afford to just walk away from the table.
“If the Chinese leave then that allows Trump to blame them for everything and it opens the door to further tariffs, which I don’t think they want,” he said.
He predicted Trump would sign the bill.