A US bill written to support democratic freedoms in Hong Kong has moved a step closer to becoming law after receiving the approval of two congressional committees.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which would require annual assessments of whether the SAR is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify its unique treatment under US law, moved through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, setting the stage for floor votes in both chambers in the coming weeks.

China has strongly objected to the bill, which also calls for sanctions against individuals responsible for “abducting and torturing” human rights activists in Hong Kong.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry called on Washington to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, saying Beijing will fight back against any US actions that harm the country’s interest.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also slammed Washington for adding fuel to the fire by supporting violent protesters, saying it must also be in the US’ interest for peace to be restored in the SAR.