22 May 2020
Two U.S. senators are proposing legislation to punish Chinese entities involved in enforcing proposed new security laws in Hong Kong and penalize banks that do business with those entities, adding to a growing list of initiatives in Congress aimed at China’s government.
The bill is being introduced in Congress as China announced plans to write a new national security law into Hong Kong’s charter, a move critics say is aimed at reining in dissent in the city.
Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Pat Toomey acted in response to what they said was the Chinese Communist Party’s “brazen interference” in Hong Kong’s autonomy. The proposal was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“The communist regime in Beijing would like nothing more than to extinguish the autonomy of Hong Kong and the rights of its people,” Toomey, of Pennsylvania, said in a statement Thursday. “Beijing’s growing interference could have a chilling effect on other nations struggling for freedom in China’s shadow.”
Separately, President Donald Trump warned Thursday that the U.S. would respond to any move to curtail protests and democratic movements in Hong Kong.
The relationship between the world’s two biggest economies has been increasingly strained amid U.S. criticism of China on trade, its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and, more recently, how it handled the initial outbreak of the coronavirus that’s killed hundreds of thousands of deaths and harmed economies around the world.
The Hong Kong legislation is the latest legislative salvo against China.
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed a separate proposal to delist Chinese companies from U.S. stock exchanges if they fail to comply with U.S. financial disclosure standards.
By Daniel Flatley, Bloomberg, 21 May 2020
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