Hong Kong rights Bill in Washington angers China, Beijing summons US diplomat

Hong Kong rights Bill in Washington angers China, Beijing summons US diplomat

An anti-government protester holds a US flag during a rally at the University of Hong Kong
An anti-government protester holds a US flag during a rally at the University of Hong Kong, China September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

BEIJING: China's foreign ministry on Wednesday (Nov 20) summoned a top US diplomat over the Senate's passing of a Hong Kong rights Bill.

It warned of "strong" countermeasures against the United States should the legislation be signed into law.

China's vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu called in acting US charge d'affaires William Klein to lodge a "strong protest", the ministry said in a statement.

READ: US Bills on Hong Kong will ‘harm relations and common interests’, says Hong Kong government

"We strongly urge the US side to immediately take effective measures to prevent this bill from becoming law" and stop meddling in China's internal affairs, the statement said.

"Otherwise, the Chinese side will take strong measures to resolutely counter it, and the US side must bear all the consequences," it added.

The US Senate unanimously adopted legislation on Tuesday supporting "human rights and democracy" in Hong Kong and threatening to revoke its special economic status.

The lawmakers also approved a measure that would ban the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment that have been used by security forces to suppress pro-democracy protests for nearly six months.

READ: Options narrow for last Hong Kong campus protesters as arrests take a toll

Commentary: This may be the end of Hong Kong as we know it

A US embassy spokesman said Klein "relayed that we are watching the situation in Hong Kong with grave concern" during the foreign ministry meeting.

The Senate's Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would require the US president to annually review the favorable trade status that Washington grants to Hong Kong.

It also mandates sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials who commit human rights abuses including "extrajudicial rendition."

The Senate "sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms: We hear you, we continue to stand with you and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy," Republican Senator Marco Rubio said.

Passage of the bill marks "an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong's eroding autonomy and human rights violations."

Source: Agencies/mn

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