Earlier, US President Donald Trump signed a bill into law that bans the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong police and supports human rights in the city.
China summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad to demand that the United States instantly stop interfering in its internal affairs and stop causing additional damage to bilateral relations, the Chinese foreign ministry said.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Branstad after Donald Trump signed legislation into law which banned the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong police.
Earlier in the day, Beijing threatened it would have to take serious countermeasures because of the US’ new law, which constituted “unconcealed hegemonic behaviour” and meddling in China’s domestic affairs.
Hong Kong Rights Act
Late on Wednesday, the White House said Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and another law that prohibited US exports of specified police equipment to Hong Kong. The acts amend the existing legislation, opening a way for imposing sanctions on human rights offenders in Hong Kong and stipulating that assessment of the developments in the region be carried out annually to determine the level of Hong Kong’s autonomy from China, a key aspect of the United States’ trade with the region.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, according to US lawmakers, allows for sanctions against officials involved in human rights abuses in the territory and could result in the removal of special trade benefits. The legislation was denounced by the Chinese officials as interference in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and the People’s Republic in general.
The Hong Kong authorities called the US laws obvious unfounded meddling in the region’s affairs, saying it might harm US-Hong Kong relations and interests.
Hong Kong Protests
Hong Kong has been gripped by the violent protests since June. The demonstrations were initially a response to an extradition bill but it was officially withdrawn in October. Still, the protests continued with the demonstrators claiming that the authorities excessively use power to suppress them, something denied by the government. Nearly 4,500 people have been detained, more than 1,500 people have been hospitalized and more than 400 security personnel have been injured in the unrest.
Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the situation in Hong Kong is a result of foreign interference in China’s domestic affairs and expressed full support for the local authorities.