2nd July 2020 – (Washington) On 1st July, the United States House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, tabled by Rep. Ted Yoho and Rep. Brad Sherman. The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, introduced by United States defends Hong Kong’s autonomy by imposing mandatory Magnitsky style sanctions on entities that violate China’s obligations to Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, as well as the Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for passing and enforcing the National Security Law in Hong Kong. The legislation will also impose mandatory secondary sanctions on banks that do “significant transactions” with persons, companies or entities involved in suppressing Hong Kong’s freedoms and violating the city’s autonomy.
Under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, Western banks in particular will be provided with structural incentives to prevent them from falling under secondary sanctions, by ensuring there is a long-runway over a two year period before sanctions are applied.
The passing of this legislation is an important step in the US leading the world in creating a calibrated and flexible sanctions program, which acts as a genuine deterrent against the ongoing infringement of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Commenting on the US House of Representatives passing the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, Hong Kong Watch’s Director, Johnny Patterson, said:
“The fact that both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate have now passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act sends a clear signal to the Communist Party of China, that the international community will not stand by and allow it to flagrantly breach its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and its promises to the people of Hong Kong.
Aside from targeted sanctions on the perpetrators of human rights abuses under the National Security Law, this legislation will give new powers to the US Government to impose secondary sanctions on financial institutions who are complicit in undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
It provides a far more flexible and calibrated sanctions regime than the US simply revoking Hong Kong’s special customs status.
We encourage the US Government to sign this Act into law and implement a targeted sanctions regime against the perpetrators of human rights abuse under the National Security Law and those financial institutions in Hong Kong that support them, as a matter of urgency.”