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China threatens 'countermeasures' after Trump signs Hong Kong Bill

China threatens 'countermeasures' after Trump signs Hong Kong Bill

The US Congress has antagonized Beijing by passing legislation that supports human rights and democracy in Hong Kong, where months of protests and unrest have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory Protesters react as police fire tear gas while they attempt to march towards Hong Kong

BEIJING: China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday (Nov 28) said it will take "firm countermeasures" if the United States continues to interfere in Hong Kong.

It said legislation signed by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday backing protesters in Hong Kong was a serious interference in Chinese affairs and US efforts were "doomed to fail". 

"The nature of this is extremely abominable, and harbours absolutely sinister intentions," the foreign ministry said in a statement, without specifying what measures Beijing might take.

READ: Hong Kong authorities appeal for calm as major highway reopens

READ: Hong Kong expresses 'extreme regret' over US law backing protests

It warned that the United States will shoulder the consequences of China's countermeasures if it continues to "act arbitrarily" in regards to Hong Kong.

"We advise the US not to obstinately go its own way, otherwise China will take firm countermeasures, and the US side must bear all the ensuing consequences."

Public protests have been held outside the PolyU campus in Hong Kong, in support of those barricaded inside AFP/YE AUNG THU

The legislation signed by Trump was approved unanimously by the US Senate and by all but one lawmaker in the House of Representatives last week. The law also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

In a statement, he spoke of "respect" for Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he hoped the "leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences".

But the move provoked fury from Beijing, which called it an "an act of undisguised hegemony".

"(It) seriously violated international law and the basic norms of international relations," the foreign ministry statement said, accusing the US of supporting the "endangerment of social order by violent criminals" and seeking to destroy the stability of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires the US president to annually review the city's favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory's freedoms are quashed.

Congress also passed legislation banning sales of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment used by Hong Kong security forces in putting down the protests, which are now in their sixth month.

Anti-government protests have roiled the Chinese-ruled city for six months, at times forcing businesses, government, schools and even the international airport to close.

The financial hub has enjoyed a rare lull in violence over the past week, with local elections on Sunday delivering a landslide victory to pro-democracy candidates.

READ: Hong Kong leader vows to 'listen humbly' as voters send sharp rebuke to Beijing

Hong Kong police entered a sprawling university campus on Thursday at the end of a nearly two-week siege that saw some of the worst clashes between protesters and security forces to have rocked the former British colony.

A team of about 100 plain-clothed police officers entered the city's battered Polytechnic University to collect evidence, removing dangerous items including petrol bombs which remain scattered around the campus.

Hong Kong has been gripped by protests since June. (Photo: AFP/Philip Fong) Hong Kong has been gripped by protests since June AFP/Philip FONG
A general view shows a canteen inside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 20, 2019. (Photo: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI)
Protesters wait to receive medical attention at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus during protests in Hong Kong, China, November 19, 2019. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

It was not clear whether any protesters remained on site but officers said any that were found would receive medical treatment first.

Demonstrators in Hong Kong are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China denies interfering and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place at that time and has blamed foreign forces for fomenting unrest.

READ: Hong Kong police enter ransacked campus after protest siege

Polytechnic University on Kowloon peninsula was turned into a battleground in mid-November, when protesters barricaded themselves in and clashed with riot police in a hail of petrol bombs, water cannon and tear gas. About 1,100 people were arrested last week, some while trying to escape.

More than 5,800 people have been arrested since June, the numbers increasing exponentially in October and November, as violence escalated.

Security teams from the university had scoured the maze of buildings at the red-bricked, sprawling campus, a focal point in recent weeks of the citywide anti-government protests that escalated in June, finding no one.

Chow Yat-ming, a senior police officer searching the campus on Thursday said if officers ran into any remaining protesters during the clear out operation "arrests would not be an objective".

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Source: Agencies/aa


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