China threatens ‘strong countermeasures’ if Trump signs bill supporting HK rights

19-Oct-2019 Intellasia | Politico | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China warned Wednesday that it would take strong action against the United States if President Donald Trump signs legislation that would place Hong Kong’s special trade status under an annual review and could sanction Chinese officials.

“If the relevant act were to become law, it would not only harm China’s interests and China-US relations, but would also seriously damage US interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in Beijing. “China will definitely take strong countermeasures, in response to the wrong decisions by the US side, to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.”

The blunt warning came after the US House on Tuesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on a voice vote, in a show of the broad bipartisan support for the measure.

Story Continued Below

A road block is set on fire in Hong Kong on October 4. | Laurel Chor (GETTY)

A road block is set on fire in Hong Kong on October 4. | Laurel Chor (GETTY)

It also came amid negotiations over a “phase one” trade agreement with Beijing to resolve some of the issues that have prompted the US to impose tariffs on more than $350 billion worth of Chinese exports.

Geng said police actions against protesters in Hong Kong have nothing to do with suppressing human rights or democracy.

“The real issue is to promptly end violence, restore order and safeguard the rule of law. The US House of Representatives is disregarding and distorting facts by referring to serious criminal offenses such as arson, smashing of shops and violence against police officers as an issue of human rights and democracy,” he said.

The Senate would also have to pass the legislation for it to reach Trump’s desk. A similar bill unanimously cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee late September. The White House has not commented on the legislation.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Jim Risch (R-Idaho) appeared undeterred by the Chinese threat, telling reporters on Wednesday that he hoped for quick Senate action on the bill.

The House legislation requires the State Department to report annually whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China to justify its unique treatment under US law. It also directs the Commerce Department to report each year on China’s efforts to use Hong Kong to evade US export controls and sanctions.

Another provision requires the president to impose sanctions on any individual responsible for abducting and torturing people for exercising internationally recognised human rights in Hong Kong. It also directs the State Department to provide visas for qualified Hong Kong residents, even if the applicant had been arrested for participating in certain nonviolent protests supporting human rights or the rule of law.

The House, which just returned from a two-week break on Tuesday, also passed a bill “to prohibit commercial exports of certain nonlethal crowd control items and defense articles and services” to the Hong Kong police, as well as a related resolution condemning China’s interference in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Lawmakers also passed resolution expressing concern over the Chinese government’s “apparent arbitrary detention and abusive treatment” of Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for the detention of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies.

Canada arrested Meng last December at the request of the United States on charges that Huawei violated US sanctions on Iran, triggering a strong reaction from Beijing.

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/17/china-threatens-strong-countermeasures-if-trump-signs-bill-supporting-hong-kong-rights-049992

 

Tags:

Category: China

Print This Post

Comments are closed.