The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has pledged to make swift progress on passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
Pelosi was speaking in Washington after hearing from a delegation of Hong Kong campaigners including Demosisto secretary-general Joshua Wong and singer-turned-activist Denise Ho.
"We cannot let commercial interests drive our policy," Pelosi said at a media briefing alongside Wong and Ho. "If we do not speak up because of commercial interests in support of human rights in China, we lose all moral authority to speak up for them in any other place in the world."
She thanked the Hong Kong activists for "challenging the conscience, not only of the Chinese government, but the conscience of the world".
The senior Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said the bill would be moved forward next week.
"America stands with you, and America will always support you," he said, in a message addressed to the people of Hong Kong. "This is a battle between democracy versus dictatorship, liberty versus tyranny and freedom versus oppression.
"The world will not stand by idly while the Chinese Communist Party continues to commit human rights violations."
In response to the comments, the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong accused Pelosi of blatantly interfering in the SAR's and China's affairs, using the excuse of supporting freedom and justice.
A spokesman said US politicians should abandon their "pride and prejudice".
The bill must pass through both the US Congress and the Senate, although leading lawmakers in both houses have offered bipartisan support to the legislation.
The bill could strip Hong Kong of its special trade status and impose sanctions against individuals who undermine the city’s standing as the freest place within China.
Last updated: 2019-09-19 HKT 12:38
Pelosi promises swift progress on HK rights act
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