China angry as Trump signs law backing Hong Kong activists
Beijing accuses US president of ‘arrogance’ and ‘sinister intentions’
Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that backs the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The Human Rights and Democracy Act instructs an annual review, to check if Hong Kong has enough autonomy to validate its special status with the US.
The legislation threatens sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses in Hong Kong. It was approved unanimously by the US Senate and by all but one lawmaker in the House of Representatives last week.
However, writing for Bloomberg, Eli Lake says: “This bill is meant to send a message to the officers and soldiers garrisoned inside Hong Kong: If you engage in violence against demonstrators, you will be held accountable.”
Although the US president said he signed the law “out of respect for President Xi [Jinping], China, and the people of Hong Kong”, his move has been criticised by both Beijing and Hong Kong’s government.
China's foreign ministry said the bill is “full of prejudice and arrogance” and accused the US of “sinister intentions”. It warned it would take “firm counter measures”.
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However, a leader of the Hong Kong protest movement, Joshua Wong, said the law was a “remarkable achievement” for “all Hongkongers”.
Trump also signed a second bill passed by Congress, which bans the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.
Speaking of the new pieces of legislation, Trump said: “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.”
CNN says that Hong Kong protesters will hold a celebratory, pro-US rally today, with one leading activist describing the new US legislation as a “timely Thanksgiving present”.