Skip to Content

Toomey-Van Hollen Hong Kong Autonomy Act Slated to Be Included in Annual Defense Bill

June 30, 2020
Photo

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen's (D-Md.) bipartisan Hong Kong Autonomy Act is expected to be included as an amendment to this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Hong Kong Autonomy Act passed the Senate unanimously last week. It was introduced in response to increasingly brazen interference of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong, would impose mandatory sanctions on entities that violate China's obligations to Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. The legislation would also impose mandatory secondary sanctions on banks that do business with the entities in violation of the Basic Law. It would be included in the NDAA upon the adoption of the manager's package of amendments.

"Last week, the Senate stood up to the communist regime in Beijing and stood with the people of Hong Kong," said Senator Toomey. "The mandatory sanctions established in this bill will punish those in China who seek to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy or erode the basic freedoms promised to Hongkongers. Inclusion of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act in the NDAA will increase the odds it passes the House and makes it to the president for his signature."

"The Hong Kong Autonomy Act sends a clear signal to China - those complicit in the continuing the crack down on Hong Kong will face consequences. This legislation has passed unanimously in the Senate, and its inclusion in the NDAA further underscores the intent of Congress to act. We will not stand by as China seeks to repress freedom, human rights, and democracy in Hong Kong," said Senator Van Hollen.

Background:

Under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, China's obligations to Hong Kong include, but are not limited to, guaranteeing:

Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy," except in foreign and defense affairs;
That Hong Kong has an independent judiciary;
  • Freedom of speech, press, and assembly in Hong Kong; and
  • That the Chief Executive and Legislative Council of Hong Kong be selected by "universal suffrage"
Senators Toomey and Van Hollen's Hong Kong Autonomy Act would impose sanctions on:
  • Persons or entities that materially contribute to the contravention of China's obligations
    • Examples may include a police unit cracking down on Hong Kong protestors or Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing a "national security" law on Hong Kong
  • Banks that conduct "significant transactions" with persons or entities described above
The legislation also expresses support for allowing Hongkongers, in a time of crisis, to become eligible to obtain lawful entry into the United States if they are facing persecution or violence from Beijing.

The bill text can be found here.