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US House passes Hong Kong Human Rights Act

THE US House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation recently that calls for the president to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to impose sanctions on assets and financial transactions of individuals and entities who are 'responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong'

US House passes Hong Kong Human Rights Act

THE US House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation recently that calls for the president to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to impose sanctions on assets and financial transactions of individuals and entities who are 'responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong'

18 October 2019 - 19:00

THE US House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation recently that calls for the president to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to impose sanctions on assets and financial transactions of individuals and entities who are 'responsible for undermining fundamental freedoms and autonomy in Hong Kong'.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was introduced in June in response to the Hong Kong government's attempt to facilitate extradition legislation that ignited protests against the Chinese government.



The House legislation, which still must pass the Senate, will require the secretary of state to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong's autonomy to justify special treatment currently afforded to it under the US Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.



It also will require the commerce secretary to issue an annual report assessing whether the Hong Kong government is adequately enforcing both US export regulations regarding sensitive dual-use items and US and UN sanctions, particularly regarding Iran and North Korea, reports American Shipper.



According to the legislation, the Commerce Department assessment must highlight any efforts by the Chinese government to use Hong Kong's status as a separate customs territory to import items into China in violation of US export control regulations, or to other US and UN-sanctioned countries.



The proposed bill follows a Commerce Department export control regulation, which entered into force on April 19, 2017, that requires US companies with licensable exports and re-exports to obtain documented proof of import licences from their Hong Kong customers before the goods are shipped.



The import licences are granted to Hong Kong's importers by the country's Special Administrative Region. If the shipment doesn't require an import licence, then a statement to that effect from the Hong Kong government still must be obtained by the US exporter.



The intent of this regulation is to help prevent diversions of controlled exports from Hong Kong to those countries where certain entities aren't eligible to receive them. Hong Kong is considered by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security to be a common destination for the diversion and transshipment of items to China and other US-sanctioned countries, such as Iran and North Korea.



House lawmakers also passed the PROTECT Hong Kong Act which bans US exports of tear gas, pepper spray, grenades, rubber bullets, guns, semi-automatic rifles and other crowd-control equipment to the Hong Kong police.


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