The Senate of the United States had unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would place sanctions on Chinese officials who disturb Hong Kong's independence from Beijing, along with sanctioning banks and firms that conspired with them.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump's administration is concerned with how the bill sets mandatory sanctions that could degrade attempts to conduct diplomacy with the Chinese nation. They also worry the law would give too much power to Congress on foreign relations.
However, the Senate defends its decisions by saying the bill would enable the White House to be flexible in how it places the sanctions.
A single senator could have stopped the passing of the bill with his vote, as stated by the rules of the Senate. This month, Senator Kevin Cramer denied the proposal, saying there was a need for Trump's Administration's input. On Thursday, however, no government official opposed the bill.
Senators Chris Van Hollen and Pat Toomey sponsored the legislation to support and defend human rights in Hong Kong and force China to protect the nation's special status.
The two senators stated that China's new laws that affected Hong Kong forced the bill's acceleration. The officials noted that the new regulations imposed on the autonomous nation undermined its independence as Beijing fights against protests calling out President Xi Jinping.
What would the bill do?
Each year, the bill requires the State Department to notify Congress about officials who attempt to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy. The United States president reserves the authority to deny the individuals' assets and entry to the US, as reported by Aljazeera.
The bill works similarly to what Congress passed last year, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was signed by Trump.
However, the new legislation further adds to the previous act by applying the sanctions to financial establishments that conspire with Chinese officials to intervene with Hong Kong's affairs.
The sanctions will only be applied to financial institutions if a bank intentionally collaborated with officials who are known to have been previously sanctioned. The revisions are meant to keep the penalties from affecting a wide array of companies based in the United States.
The legislation would also enable banks to know which entities are included in the sanctions list before the penalties are implemented.
According to CNBC, one major factor the United States wants to support Hong Kong's independence is its tight trade and relationship with the city as observers have noted.
The State Department noted on its website that more than 1,300 American companies are operating within Hong Kong, and 300 of them have their Asian regional operations in the city. It is also revealed that almost all major US financial establishments have a part in the city.
Hong Kong has long been a significant destination for the United States' legal and accounting services, revealed the State Department. The most substantial goods and trade surplus of the US worldwide was seen last year at $31.1 billion and was with the independent city.
The main reason for the relationships has been Hong Kong's trustworthy position and a safer way into China, which is currently the second-largest economy in the world.