S 1838 - Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 - National Key Vote


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Title: Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that requires the Department of State to assess whether political developments in Hong Kong justify changing Hong Kong's unique treatment under US law.



  • Requires the Secretary of State to issue an annual certification to Congress that (Sec. 205):

    • Indicates whether Hong Kong continues to warrant treatment under United States law in the same manner that US laws were applied before July 1, 1997;

    • Addresses:

      • Commercial agreements;

      • Law enforcement cooperation, including extradition requests;

      • Sanctions enforcement;

      • Export controls, and any other agreements and forms of exchange involving dual-use, critical, or other sensitive technologies;

      • Any formal treaties or agreement between the US and Hong Kong;

      • Decision-making within the government of Hong Kong, including executive, legislative, and judicial structures that include freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press, including the Internet and social media;

      • Universal suffrage, including the ultimate aim of the selection of the chief executive and all members of the legislative council by universal suffrage;

      • Judicial independence;

      • Police and security functions;

      • Education;  

      • Laws or regulations regarding treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the government of China, or theft of state secrets;

      • Laws or regulations regarding foreign political organizations or bodies;

      • Laws or regulations regarding political organizations; and

      • Other rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and

    • Includes: 

      • An assessment of the degree of any erosions to Hong Kong’s autonomy in each category, listed in the above sub-highlights, resulting from actions by the government of China that are inconsistent with its commitments under the Basic Law or the Joint Declarations;

      • An evaluation of the specific impacts to any areas of cooperation between the US and Hong Kong resulting from erosions of autonomy in Hong Kong or failures of the Hong Kong government to fulfill obligations to the US under the previously-mentioned international agreements; 

      • A list of any specific actions taken by the US government in response to any erosion of autonomy or failures to fulfill obligations to the US under the previously-mentioned international agreements.

  • Prohibits the denial of applications submitted by otherwise qualified applicants who resided in Hong Kong in 2014 and later to enter, study, or work in the US, primarily on the basis of the applicant’s subjection to politically-motivated arrest, detention, or other adverse government action (Sec. 206).

  • Authorizes the Secretary of State to take steps as necessary to ensure that consular officers are aware of the policy listed above and receive appropriate training and support to ensure that the policy is carried out so that affected individuals do not face discrimination or unnecessary delay in the processing of their visa applications (Sec. 206).

  • Requires the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State, to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees that includes the following (Sec. 5):

    • An assessment of the nature and extent of violations of US export control and sanctions laws occurring in Hong Kong;

    • To the extent possible, the identification of:

      • Any items that were re-exported from Hong Kong in violation of the laws referred to in the previous sub-highlight;

      • The countries and persons to which the items referred to in the previous sub-highlight were re-exported; and

      • How such items were used;

    • An assessment of whether sensitive dual-use items subject to US export control laws are being:

      • Transshipped through Hong Kong; and

      • Used to develop:

        • The Sharp Eyes, Skynet, Integrated Joint Operations Platform, or other systems of mass surveillance and predictive policing; or 

        • The “social credit system” of China;

    • An assessment of the efforts by the government of China to use the status of Hong Kong as a separate customs territory to import items into China from Hong Kong in violation of US export control laws, whether as part of the Great Bay Area plan, through the assignment by Bejing of Hong Kong as a national technology and innovation center, or through other programs that may exploit Hong Kong as a conduit for controlled sensitive technology;

    • An assessment of whether the government of Hong Kong has adequately enforced sanctions imposed by the United Nations;

    • A description of the types of goods and services transshipped or re-exported through Hong Kong in violation of such sanctions to:

      • North Korea or Iran; or

      • Other counties, regimes, or persons subject to such sanctions for engaging in activities:

        • Relating to international terrorism, international narcotics trafficking, or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; or

        • That otherwise present a threat to US national security, foreign policy, or the economy; and

    • An assessment of whether shortcomings in the enforcement of export controls or sanctions by the Hong Kong government necessitates the assignment of additional Department of the Treasury, Department of Commerce, or Department of State personnel in the US Consulate in Hong Kong. 

  • Requires the president to exercise all the powers granted under the International Emergency Powers Act to block and prohibit all transactions in property and interests of property of a foreign person identified in the required report if such property and interests are in the US, come within the US, or come within the possession or control of a US person (Sec. 7).

  • Requires the president to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a sanctions report that includes the following (Sec. 8):

    • A list of each foreign person with respect to which the president imposed sanctions during the year preceding the submission of the report;

    • A description of the type of sanctions imposed with respect to each such person;

    • The number of foreign persons with respect to which the president terminated sanctions during that year;

    • The dates on which such sanctions were imposed or terminated, as applicable;

    • The reasons for imposing or terminating such sanctions; and 

    • A description of the efforts of the president to encourage the governments of other countries to impose sanctions that are similar to US sanctions.

Title: Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019