GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber are expected to introduce a measure to condemn China over its handling of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Senator Josh Hawley’s office released a statement saying he, along with Senators Rick Scott and John Cornyn, are expected to unveil the legislation Thursday.
The bill, called the Hong Kong Be Water Act, would enact sanctions targeting both Chinese and Hong Kong officials who inhibit the “freedoms of speech, association, assembly, procession, and demonstration” of those protesting.
In addition, the measure also condemns China for breaching the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, which mandates certain rights for those in Hong Kong including the right to assemble and the right to free speech.
If passed, the bill would also freeze certain Chinese assets involved in the suppression of the people of Hong Kong.
Both Senator Hawley and Senator Scott traveled to Hong Kong last month, and ultimately drafted the bill shortly after witnessing the chaos firsthand.
Senator Hawley weighed in on the move saying, “Make no mistake about it: Hong Kong is rapidly becoming a police state. We must send a signal to the world that the United States will stand with Hongkongers as they stand up to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Earlier this month, the House passed a similar bill coined the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which could provide justification for sanctions targeting anyone who seeks to undermine the widespread pro-democracy demonstrations.
The lower chamber passed it unanimously, shortly before China threatened unspecified retaliation over the move.
According to Chinese officials, Beijing would retaliate with “strong countermeasures” if the resolution is enacted.
If passed, the measure will spur an annual review to evaluate the special trading status Hong Kong currently has under American law.
The bill is expected to pass the GOP-controlled upper chamber, where it enjoys widespread bipartisan support.