US senators push for vote on Hong Kong rights bill as violence rises

WASHINGTON: The chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Tuesday (Nov 13) he wanted the Senate to pass legislation to support protesters in Hong Kong, as violence rose in the Chinese-ruled city wracked by months of unrest.

Republican Senator Jim Risch noted that he is a co-sponsor and "strong proponent" of the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", which would place Hong Kong's special treatment by the United States under tighter scrutiny.

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"We want it moved," Risch said during a discussion on China at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

READ: China says firmly supports Hong Kong police after US criticises shooting of protester

READ: Protesters tried to steal officer's gun: Hong Kong police on latest shooting

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The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill in mid-October, drawing accusations from Beijing that the lawmakers had "sinister intentions".

Risch's Foreign Relations committee approved a similar measure in September, but it has not been scheduled for a vote by the full Senate, which must pass the bill before it can be sent to President Donald Trump. The White House, which is engaged in intense trade negotiations with China, has yet to say whether he would sign or veto it.

Police in Hong Kong battled protesters at several university campuses on Tuesday in sometimes savage clashes, as parts of the city were paralyzed including Hong Kong's central financial district, which was tear-gassed for a second day running.

Those flare-ups occurred a day after police shot an unarmed protester at close range and a man was doused with gasoline and set on fire in some of the worst violence since the protests began.

READ: US condemns latest Hong Kong violence, UK says escalation 'deeply disturbing'

READ: Timeline – Fresh violence erupts in Hong Kong on Tuesday

Risch and fellow Republican Senator Marco Rubio are to meet on Wednesday with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the possibility of getting floor time for a vote on the bill, aides said.

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