US Senate Approves Sanctions Against Chinese Officials Over Hong Kong Security Law
17:04 GMT 25.06.2020(updated 17:49 GMT 25.06.2020)
The Hong Kong security bill has sparked criticism from a number of countries and triggered massive protests in the autonomous city. The legislation, which bans secessionist activities, among other things, is regarded by residents of Hong Kong as undermining their liberties.
The US Senate has approved a bill that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over the Hong Kong security law.
The bill, which would allow the US to impose sanctions against Hong Kong police, Chinese officials, and banks, still needs to be passed by the House of Representatives.
According to a draft document, the legislation is expected to maintain Hong Kong authorities' power to carry out most of the law enforcement functions and judicial proceedings on their own, while allowing the central government to intervene under certain emergency conditions.
The draft states that "almost all judicial proceedings in the relevant cases, including the initiation of criminal proceedings and investigation, prosecution and punishment should be conducted under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong with the application of the said bill and local laws".
Earlier today, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States has accepted a European Union proposal to launch a dialogue on China.
Under the Trump administration, US-China relations have considerably worsened, with Washington accusing Beijing of unfair trade practices, human rights violations in some of its regions, and encroachment of the special status of Hong Kong, prompting discussions on potential sanctions against Beijing.
China has rejected the accusations and, in turn, pointed to various violations of international law on the part of the United States.
Wide-scale protests have been taking place sporadically in Hong Kong since June 2019, with protesters claiming to oppose Beijing's increasing influence on the special administrative region. The latest wave of protests was caused triggered the Chinese central authorities' plans to pass a security bill for Hong Kong.
Mass protests in Hong Kong were sparked in June 2019 by another controversial bill, now defunct, that would have allowed the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China. The protests morphed into a full-blown movement against Beijing's authority and were characterised by violent clashes with police forces.
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