China reacts furiously after Trump signs Hong Kong bills into law

28 November 2019, 07:39

Donald Trump has signed the HK Bill into law
Donald Trump has signed the HK Bill into law. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

China reacted furiously to US President Donald Trump's signing of bills on Hong Kong human rights and says Washington will bear the unspecified consequences.

American support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong comes amid escalating trade tensions between the two superpowers.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the US has “sinister intentions” and its “plot” is “doomed to fail,” after President Trump signed two bills supporting Hong Kong protesters into law.

Beijing summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad to demand the US stop meddling in the internal affairs of the country, suggesting continuing interference could cause further damage to relations between the countries.

Earlier this year China and the US were engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war which saw the Beijing and Washington imposing retaliatory tariffs on goods.

The two largest economies were embroiled in a spat over allegations from Mr Trump that China steals intellectual property and forces foreign companies to tell them trade secrets in order for them to operate in the country.

The Human Rights and Democracy Act signed into law by President Trump requires Hong Kong's annual recertification by the US State Department, ensuring the territory retains enough autonomy to justify favourable US trading terms. It also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.

A second bill banning the export of teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns to the Hong Kong police was also signed by President Trump.

Hong Kong has been rocked by weeks of protests
Hong Kong has been rocked by weeks of protests. Picture: PA

A Chinese foreign ministry statement repeats heated condemnations of the laws and said China will counteract.

“We advise the US not to act arbitrarily, or else China must firmly counteract, and the US must bear all resulting consequences,” China’s foreign ministry said in its statement.

Mr Trump signed the bills, which were approved by near-unanimous consent in the House and Senate, even as he expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China's President Xi Jinping.

President Trump told reporters he signed the bills out of respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the people of Hong Kong. Adding: "They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all."

Messages of support for Donald Trump
Messages of support for Donald Trump. Picture: PA

Earlier police started to clear a Hong Kong university that was a flashpoint for clashes with anti-government demonstrators, as Beijing slammed a US move to sign into law bills supporting human rights in the Chinese territory.

Posters and messages of praise for President Trump appeared around the city following the signing of the bill.

The move into the Polytechnic University came after its administration said they believed no one else remained inside.

Activist Joshua Wong hailed the passing of US legislation and says he hopes it will spur other western nations to follow suit.