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Pro-democracy protesters during a demonstration on July 1, 2020. Photo: Tommy Walker/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Senate approved a bill via unanimous consent on Thursday that authorizes sanctions on Chinese officials involved in implementing Hong Kong's draconian new national security law, in addition to banks and firms that do business with them.

Why it matters: The bill, which passed the House unanimously on Wednesday, is part of the United States' bipartisan rebuke of China's passage of the security law, which encroaches on Hong Kong's independent legal system by setting harsh punishments for broadly defined crimes associated with protests.

  • The bill targets Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing the law and Hong Kong police units that have curtailed pro-democracy protests in the special administrative region, AP reports.

The big picture: In response to the sanctions, China has said it will impose visa restrictions on Americans who it believes are interfering with Hong Kong affairs.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced threats of a visa ban, calling them a sign of “how Beijing refuses to take responsibility for its own choices."
  • He said that adoption of the security law “destroys the territory’s autonomy and one of China’s greatest achievements," according to AP.

What's next: The bill now heads to President Trump's desk. His administration is attempting to salvage the "phase one" trade deal it reached with Beijing in January.

  • Trump said the trade deal is still "fully intact" in June, while White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said it was effectively dead on the same day, the New York Times reports.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Sep 29, 2020 - World

U.K. and Canada sanction Belarus dictator over rigged election

Lukashenko. Photo: Siarhei Leskiec/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. and Canada on Tuesday announced they would impose sanctions on Belarus dictator Aleksander Lukashenko and members of his government for violence against protesters in the wake of August's rigged election.

Why it matters: The sanctions against the Belarus strongman represent the first major penalties enacted by Western powers since a post-election crackdown in which Lukashenko's security forces have brutalized protesters and detained major opposition figures.

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

4 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.