H.R. 7440 – Hong Kong Autonomy Act

U.S. House of Representatives Seal
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On July 2, 2020 both the US Senate and the US House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act. The Act requires the US State Department to annually report to Congress individuals, institutions, and financial institutions that have violated Hong Kong’s autonomy under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law, and requires the President to impose sanctions on those named. 

Under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, individuals, institutions, and banks that erode Hong Kong’s autonomy through the National Security Law will face targeted financial sanctions. 

Senators Van Hollen and Toomey initiated the legislation in the Senate, and it was initiated by Rep. Sherman and Yoho in the US House of Representatives.

Summary of H.R. 7440 – Hong Kong Autonomy Act

This bill imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities that materially contribute to China’s failure to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Hong Kong is part of China but has a largely separate legal and economic system with protections for civil rights such as freedom of speech. This arrangement is enshrined in (1) the Joint Declaration, a 1984 treaty pertaining to the United Kingdom’s transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty to China; and (2) the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitutional document.

The Department of State shall report annually to Congress information about (1) foreign individuals and entities that materially contributed to China’s failure to comply with the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law; and (2) foreign financial institutions that knowingly conducted a significant transaction with such identified individuals and entities. An individual, entity, or financial institution may be excluded from this report for various reasons, such as to protect an intelligence source.

The President shall impose property-blocking sanctions on an individual or entity named in a report, and visa-blocking sanctions on a named individual. The President shall impose various sanctions on a financial institution named in a report, such as prohibiting the institution from receiving loans from a U.S. financial institution.

The President may waive or terminate the imposition of sanctions under this bill. Congress may override such a waiver or termination by passing a joint resolution of disapproval.

(H.R. 7440, H.R.7440, HR 7440, HR7440, hr7440)

Explainer: Understanding the Hong Kong Autonomy Act in practice

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