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China summons US ambassador in protest over Hong Kong rights Bill

China summons US ambassador in protest over Hong Kong rights Bill

Protesters hold up five fingers and a US flag during a rally to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong, China Sep 8, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)

BEIJING: China has summoned the US ambassador to demand that United States scrap legislation backing Hong Kong's protest movement, or "bear all the consequences", the foreign ministry said on Tuesday (Nov 26).

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act awaiting President Donald Trump's signature supports human rights and democracy in the city, while threatening to revoke the territory's special economic status.

A separate measure bans the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment used by the security forces to suppress protests.

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Vice foreign minister Zheng Zeguang summoned US ambassador Terry Branstad on Monday to voice a "strong protest" over the Bill, the ministry said in a statement.

The legislation "brazenly interferes in China's internal affairs" and "indulges and supports the violent criminal behaviour by 'anti-China disrupting Hong Kong' forces", the ministry said.

"China expresses its strong resentment and resolute opposition," Zheng was quoted as saying.

A US embassy spokesman said Branstad told Zheng the US was watching events in Hong Kong "with grave concern".

"‎He conveyed that we condemn all forms of violence and intimidation. The ambassador added that the United States believes that societies are best served when diverse political views can be represented in genuinely free and fair elections."

A US State Department spokeswoman said earlier Hong Kong's autonomy, its adherence to the rule of law and its commitment to protecting civil liberties were "key to preserving its special status under US law".

"As the United States Government has said repeatedly, the Chinese Communist Party must honour its promises to the Hong Kong people, who only want the freedoms and liberties that they have been promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed treaty," the spokeswoman said.

Anti-government demonstrators have protested in the streets of Hong Kong for more than five months amid increasing violence and fears that China will ratchet up its response to stop the civil disobedience.

The protesters are angry at what they see as Chinese meddling in the freedoms promised to Hong Kong when Britain handed it back to China in 1997.

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The US House of Representatives sent the Bills to the White House on Wednesday after voting 417 to 1 for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the Senate had passed unanimously the day before.

Trump has not indicated whether he will sign the legislation into law, saying last week that while he stood with Hong Kong, he also stood with his "friend", President Xi Jinping.

The foreign ministry urged the US to "immediately correct its mistakes, prevent the above-mentioned Hong Kong-related Bill from becoming law, and stop any words and deeds that interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs".

"Otherwise, the US side must bear all the consequences," it said.

The Joint Declaration is the 1984 agreement of the terms under which Britain would return Hong Kong to China on Jul 1, 1997, and included the promise of a "high degree of autonomy" for Hong Kong for 50 years from that date.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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Source: Agencies/jt


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