One day after the Senate unanimously passed a Bill backing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, and spawning a wave of complaints and threats from China which warned it would retaliate, moments ago the U.S. House of Representatives followed in the footsteps of the Senate, and in a nearly unanimous vote cleared legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by requiring an annual review of whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify its special trading status, defying objections from China.
The bill, S. 1838, which would require annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law and sanction officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses and undermining the city’s autonomy, passed the House 417-1 late on Wednesday afternoon setting up a confrontation with Beijing that could imperil a long-awaited trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.
The bill now goes to Trump as soon as Thursday to be vetoed or signed into law, according to a congressional aide.
While the White House declined to comment on whether Trump will sign the legislation, Trump’s position is now acutely precarious because Congress would easily be able to override any veto. If Trump signs the bill, he could torpedo the trade talks, while refusing to sign it would give his political opponents a chance to attack him for being weak on China, while at the same time facing an ongoing impeachment process.
“The Congress is sending an unmistakable message to the world that the United States stands in solidarity with freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and that we fully support their fight for freedom,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor. “This has been a very unifying issue for us.”
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