onald Trump has signed into law a bill of support for the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a move that has outraged China and complicates the ongoing trade war between the two countries.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act mandates that the US Secretary of State certify at least once a year whether Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to qualify for special US trading considerations.
Hong Kong is treated as fully autonomous for trade and economic matters, meaning that the former British colony is exempt from Trump’s tariffs against China. The status helps to bolster the city as one of the world’s top financial hubs.
The act was passed through the US Congress nearly unanimously and easily had the support to beat a presidential veto. It comes at an awkward time for Trump who is still trying to hammer out the first stage of an economic agreement with China following a trade war that has raged on for more than one year.
Trump said that he signed the bill “out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong.” Previously, he has stayed mostly quiet about Hong Kong, declaring that he hopes the situation will “work out for everybody, including China.”
After the bill was signed into law by China, China’s foreign ministry issued a statement threatening unspecified “counter measures” if the US continues “going down the wrong path,” accusing the US government of meddling in Hong Kong in an attempt to keep China down:
The US has been disregarding facts and distorting truth. It openly backed violent criminals who rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, assaulted innocent civilians, trampled on the rule of law, and jeopardized social order. The egregious and malicious nature of its intentions is fully revealed. Its very aim is to undermine Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity, sabotage the practice of “one country, two systems”, and disrupt the Chinese nation’s endeavor to realize the great renewal.
We remind the US that Hong Kong is part of China and Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs where no foreign government or force shall interfere. This Act will only further expose the malicious and hegemonic nature of US intentions to the Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots. And the Chinese people will only stand in greater solidarity. The US attempts are bound to fail.
It’s not yet clear if China will respond with any concrete measures. Hu Xijin, the editor in chief of the nationalistic Global Times tabloid, claims that Beijing may blacklist those politicians who drafted the act from entering China.
Based what I know, out of respect for President Trump, the US and its people, China is considering to put the drafters of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on the no-entry list, barring them from entering Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) November 28, 2019