Senator Patrick Toomey told CNBC on Thursday that the United States should respond to Beijing’s latest encroachment on Hong Kong autonomy, coming in the form of a new national security law approved by the Chinese parliament.
The Pennsylvania Republican touted legislation he proposed, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Said the bill would be a supplement to any action resulting from moving State Department.
“The idea of this bill is to send a very clear message to Beijing that we will not sit idly by as they systematically destroy the autonomy they promised in Hong Kong,”; Toomey told “Squawk Box.”
The prospect of Chinese national security law, announced last week, has triggered another wave of protests in the former British colony, following widespread pro-democracy demonstrations there last year years.
Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, is governed under a “one country, two systems” principle, which provides freedoms to city dwellers without them on the mainland. In a handover in 1997, China promised to retain those freedoms for 50 years.
Critics of the national security law believe it will erode those freedoms.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States no longer considers Hong Kong autonomous from China, a decision that has broad economic implications.
Pompeo’s decision unfortunately recognizes the “obvious,” Toomey said, arguing that Hong Kong has no autonomy “that made the decision for a separate relationship between the United States and Hong Kong compared to, say, each other cities in China. ”
Foromey, for example, said that tariffs imposed on mainland China, but not Hong Kong, could lose their distinction as a result of Pompeo’s decision.
If his bill, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, becomes law, Toomey said the State Department would need to list entities and people in China who are “responsible for enforcing this crackdown in Hong Kong.”
“They will be subject to sanctions on their own, financial penalties including things like freezing their assets but also a secondary penalty, which means restricting the activities of banks financially individuals. and those creatures, “Toomey said. “I think that’s a pretty big hammer to be saved.”
US ties with Beijing were narrowly linked to the coronavirus pandemic and other points of tension, Toomey acknowledged, but he said Washington should respond to developments in Hong Kong.
Toomey, a member of the Senate committee and budget committee, said he believes China’s new national security law is “worse” than last year’s extradition proposal that triggered widespread demonstrations.
“It will only impose full Chinese criminal justice, or criminal justice system, directly on the people of Hong Kong,” he said. “It’s pretty important, I think, that we’re responding there.”