July 02, 2020

Van Hollen and Toomey’s Hong Kong Autonomy Act Headed to Trump’s Desk for Signature

Today, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy against increasingly brazen interference from the Chinese Community Party. The Hong Kong Autonomy Act now awaits President Trump’s signature. 

“Today’s passage of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act makes it clear that we will not stand by as China seeks to crush freedom, human rights, and democracy in Hong Kong. The government of China is already flagrantly using their new authorities to punish and imprison those who have stood up against the recent implementation of their sweeping national security law. Our legislation mandates severe consequences on those who participate in this unconscionable repression. I appreciate Senator Toomey’s partnership on this effort, and I urge the President to sign this bill into law – and begin imposing these sanctions – immediately,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

“The harsh steps the Chinese Communist Party is taking to crackdown on the basic rights of Hongkongers is chilling,” said Senator Toomey. “This includes draconian limits on speech, the right to assemble, and any semblance of a representative government. The Hong Kong Autonomy Act makes clear that there are ramifications for such egregious acts. I very much appreciate Senator Van Hollen’s working with me to get this bill through Congress with unanimous support. President Trump should sign it into law as soon as possible and make it clear that the United States stands with Hong Kong." 

Video of Van Hollen and Toomey’s speeches in support of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, as well as footage of the bill’s passage, is available here


Under the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, China’s obligations to Hong Kong include, but are not limited to, guaranteeing:

  • Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy,” except in foreign and defense affairs;
  • That Hong Kong has an independent judiciary;
  • Freedom of speech, press, and assembly in Hong Kong; and
  • That the Chief Executive and Legislative Council of Hong Kong be selected by “universal suffrage”
  • Senators Van Hollen and Toomey’s Hong Kong Autonomy Act would impose sanctions on:

  • Persons or entities that materially contribute to the contravention of China’s obligations
  • Examples may include a police unit cracking down on Hong Kong protestors or Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing a “national security” law on Hong Kong
  • Banks that conduct “significant transactions” with persons or entities described above
  • The legislation also expresses support for allowing Hongkongers, in a time of crisis, to become eligible to obtain lawful entry into the United States if they are facing persecution or violence from Beijing.