House passes bill sanctioning China over Hong Kong security law

The House of Representatives has approved sanctions on banks doing business with Chinese officials behind the new national security law cracking down on Hong Kong protesters.

Speaking before the measure was passed Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried Beijing’s efforts to curb Hong Kong’s freedoms.

“Beijing’s so-called ‘national security’ law, passed on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China, signals the death of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” the California Democrat said.

“If we do not speak out for human rights and religious freedom in China, we lose all moral authority to speak out any place,” the House speaker continued.

The measure, authored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), was passed by unanimous consent, a rule that allows legislation in Congress to pass as long as no present members voice objections.

Last week, a similar but not identical piece of legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent. Changes made in the House will require the bill to return to the Senate for another vote, which is expected on Thursday.

“No one should face life in prison for demonstrating. Now, Hong Kongers are fleeing Hong Kong out of fear for their safety, and we should support their right to do so. We need to impose consequences on the Chinese government for its actions towards #HongKong,” Sherman said in a tweet after the bill’s passage.

In a joint statement released Wednesday evening, Toomey and Van Hollen celebrated the action by the House.

Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong KongA police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong

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