- Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday, the day the national security law went in to effect.
- Congress passed the Act near unanimously in both houses.
- After testifying remotely, democracy activist Nathan Law fled the city.
The US Senate passed a final version of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on Thursday, authorizing Washington to sanction individuals and businesses that promote the controversial national security law in Hong Kong and restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday, the day the national security law went in to effect. The House of Representatives immediately passed the bill, which passed in the Senate last week. The Senate passed the bill again today, with some details revised. The bill still needs to be signed by President Trump to go in to effect.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement after passage on Wednesday. Speaker Pelosi condemned “the cowardly Chinese government’s passage of its so-called ‘national security’ law,” saying it “threatens the end of the ‘one country, two systems.’” Pelosi added that “all freedom-loving people must condemn this horrific law, which is purpose-built to dismantle democratic freedoms in Hong Kong.”
Pelosi also called on President Trump “to take strong, strategic action to hold Chinese officials accountable.” She said, “we must consider every tool at our disposal, including visa limitations and economic penalties, to keep alive the hopes for freedom, justice and real autonomy for the people of Hong Kong.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden condemned Trump’s weak attitude toward China. Biden said China’s actions represented “another terrible turn for the rights of the Chinese people on President Trump’s watch,” accusing Trump of “fealty to Xi Jinping.”
Hong Kong Democrats Video Statement
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives also invited Nathan Law, former chairman of Demosistō, Lee Cheuk-yan, General Secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, and Liang Jiping, former editor-in-chief of the Hong Kong University Journal Academy, to make video presentations.
“The high degree of autonomy, once promised, is just another blatant lie,” Law told the committee, as reported by RTHK. “It takes decades, if not longer, to build a city but it takes just weeks to destroy it.”
He also told US lawmakers that under the National Security Law, his colleagues, such as Joshua Wong, veteran politician and lawyer Martin Lee and publisher Jimmy Lai, were in danger. Before testifying, Law posted on Facebook that he knew that he would face certain risks when he participated in the hearing.
Afterward, Law announced on social media that he had fled the city. “No Hong Konger is under the illusion that Beijing has any intention to respect our basic rights and honor its promises to us. Mass arrests have already begun on the first day of the National Security Law’s implementation.”
Lee mentioned that hundreds of people had been arrested on the first day of the national security law, merely for waving flags. Liang also said that Hong Kong people are now self-censored, and living in white terror. Liang also condemned Beijing for trying to isolate Hong Kongers internationally.