The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on October 15 sought by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong that aims to defend civil rights in the semi-autonomous territory, prompting an angry response from China. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act will now move to the Senate before it can become law.

What will be the implications of new law?
The law would end the Hong Kong-U.S. special trading status unless the State Department certifies annually that city authorities are respecting human rights and the rule of law.

The law also requires the U.S. president to identify and sanction people who are responsible for the erosion of autonomy and serious abuses of human rights in Hong Kong.

The House also approved, by a similar voice vote, a related bill to prohibit the export of certain non-lethal crowd control items such as tear gas to Hong Kong. Amnesty International has accused the city’s officers of using excessive force, although the police say they have exercised restraint.

What is the reaction of China?
China expressed “strong indignation” over the passing of the act, China said the U.S. should “stop meddling” and warned China would take “strong measures” to counter the proposed Hong Kong bill.

What is the situation in Kong Kong?
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 the deal that governed Hong Kong’s 1997 transfer to China from British colonial rule.

Source: The Hindu

Relevant for: GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR