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House Adopts Hong Kong Bill of Rights Against Trump's Trade Negotiations with China

Democrat supporters hold a flashlight on their phone at a rally to show support to students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on November 19, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.

Anthony Kwan | Getty Images

The House passed a pro-Hong Kong bill of rights on Wednesday, tying President Donald Trump as he tries not to hold high-stakes trade talks with China.

The House approved a measure aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong as opposed to 41

7-1 amid efforts to curb months of protests against democracy. The House passed a second bill to ban the export of some ammunition to Hong Kong police along the same border.

The Senate unanimously approved the two pieces of legislation so that they go to Trump's bureau after passing the House. The White House has not yet signaled where the president of bills is, but he may face a dilemma.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Gen Shuang said Beijing "condemns and strongly opposes" the first bill known as Hong Kong Human Rights and the Democracy Act, according to Reuters. Trump aims not to anger the Chinese regime, as he insists on the elusive first part of a US-China trade agreement.

The move by Congress to pass bills comes at a difficult time for Trump, who hopes to have a commercial victory in China to promote the 2020 campaign. Major U.S. stock indexes fell Wednesday after a Reuters report that the two largest economies in the world may not complete a first phase trade deal this year.

Trump did not respond to screaming questions from reporters Wednesday on whether to sign the bills, legislation passed with almost unanimous support in both chambers, meaning Congress could overturn Trump's veto.

The government's response to months of protests over democracy in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region, has become increasingly violent. The demonstrations first began in response to a reported bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Some members of the Trump administration, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have sharply criticized China's response to the protests. Trump said China should handle the situation on its own, though it warned that harsh treatment of Hong Kong people could cancel trade talks.

A bill passed this week will require Pompeo once a year to say that Hong Kong has enough autonomy to support special trade concerns in the United States that help its economy. It will also create the potential for sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

The second measure would prevent the sale of items such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.

Asked about trade talks earlier Wednesday, Trump said Beijing wants to reach a trade agreement more than it does. He added that he had not made a deal because "I don't think they increase the level I want."

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