U.S. House Poised to Vote on Bills Supporting Hong Kong Protests

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. House is poised take up three bills aimed at supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong when lawmakers return to work next week, potentially raising tensions with China amid Trump administration negotiations with Beijing on trade.

The main focus for House lawmakers is the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which would require annual assessments of whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify the city’s special trading status under U.S. law.

Similar legislation is also before the Senate, though the timing of a vote there remains uncertain. The measures have bipartisan support in both chambers.

U.S. House Poised to Vote on Bills Supporting Hong Kong Protests

The House may also vote next week on the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would halt the export to Hong Kong of crowd-control devices such as tear gas and rubber bullets. The intent of the measure is to prevent police in Hong Kong from using those non-lethal weapons on protesters.

Finally, the House may also vote on a resolution re-affirming the relationship between the U.S. and Hong Kong, condemning Chinese interference in the region and voicing support for protesters, some of whom have visited Capitol Hill in recent weeks.

Momentum has been building for quick action in Congress to pressure China to back off any crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has voiced her support for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and lawmakers from both parties have spoken out about a need for action on the issue.

China has raised objections to the moves in Congress as actions that harm China’s national interest.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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