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

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

FILE PHOTO: Police pass a burning barricade to break up thousands of anti-government protesters during a march billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy, in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

HONG KONG: The Hong Kong government on Thursday (Nov 28) expressed strong opposition and "extreme regret" to US legislation backing protesters in the Chinese-ruled city.

"The two acts are obviously interfering in Hong Kong's internal affairs," a government official said in a statement, warning the move would "send the wrong message to the protesters".

A badly damaged Starbucks inside Hong Kong's Polytechnic University. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law congressional legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong despite angry objections from Beijing, with which he is seeking a deal to end a damaging trade war. 

The new legislation, approved unanimously by the US Senate and by all but one lawmaker in the House of Representatives last week, requires the State Department to certify, at least annually, that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify favorable US trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a world financial centre. 

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

It also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.

Congress passed a second Bill - which Trump also signed - banning the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.

"I signed these Bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. 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," Trump said in a statement.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Riot police officers stand guard at Polytechnic University (PolyU) in Hong Kong, China, November 25, 2019. REUTERS/Marko Djurica
An anti-government demonstrator throws back a tear gas canister during a protest march in Hong Kong, on Oct 20, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon)

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

Hong Kong has been embroiled in nearly six months of turmoil. Millions took to the streets earlier this year after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's government introduced a Bill to allow extraditions to China.

It was eventually withdrawn, but the resulting public anger unleashed broader demands and led to violent clashes between police and protesters.

READ: Hong Kong PolyU campus searched, just one protester found

Hong Kong Polytechnic University recently emerged as the epicentre of the territory's increasingly violent protest movement when clashes broke out on Nov 17 between police and protesters armed with bows, arrows and Molotov cocktails.

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

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Source: Agencies/aa


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