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China warns Trump against signing off on legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters

Beijing warned Washington of 'strong countermeasures' if Trump signs off on legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters.

China warns Trump against signing off on legislation supporting Hong Kong protesters
Bengaluru, First Published Nov 22, 2019, 4:24 PM IST
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Hong Kong: China has called on US President Donald Trump to veto legislation aimed at supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement, warning it will retaliate if the Congress-backed bills become law.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Thursday said the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act undermined Beijing's interests in the semi-autonomous territory, which has been rocked by months of anti-government demonstrations.

The act mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favourable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.

Another bill prohibits export of certain non-lethal munitions, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannon, stun guns and tasers to Hong Kong police.

"We urge the US to grasp the situation, stop its wrongdoing before it's too late, prevent this act from becoming law [and] immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs," Geng said at a daily news briefing.

"If the US continues to make the wrong moves, China will be taking strong countermeasures for sure," he added.

Geng's comments came after the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the bills on Wednesday, a day after the Senate passed them on voice votes.

The bills have now been sent to the White House for Trump's consideration. White House officials have indicated that the US president will sign-off on the measures.

If they become law, the tension between Washington and Beijing is likely to increase, casting a shadow over delicate talks aimed at ending the continuing US-China trade war.

Hong Kong's government, for its part, has also expressed its strong opposition to the legislation saying it would damage the territory's relations with the US.

According to a report in Al Jazeera, "The two acts will also send an erroneous signal to the violent protesters, which would not be conducive to de-escalating the situation," the city government said in a statement on Thursday.

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