China summons US ambassador, says Hong Kong rights law is 'strong interference'

China summons US ambassador, says Hong Kong rights law is 'strong interference'

Hong kong sunday march
Protesters march during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on Jun 16, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal)

BEIJING: China summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad on Thursday (Nov 28) to demand that the United States immediately stop interfering in its internal affairs and stop causing further damage to bilateral relations, its foreign ministry said.

READ: China threatens 'countermeasures' after Trump signs Hong Kong Bill

Vice foreign minister Le Yucheng summoned Branstad a day after US President Donald Trump signed into law congressional legislation which supported anti-governments protesters in Hong Kong, despite angry objections from Beijing.

Le lodged a "strong protest" with Branstad and demanded that the United States "correct its mistakes and change course", the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

In a statement about Branstad's meeting with Le, a US embassy spokesman said: "The United States believes that Hong Kong's autonomy, its adherence to the rule of law, and its commitment to protecting civil liberties are key to preserving its special status under US law."

The Chinese Communist Party must honour "its promises to the Hong Kong people, who only want the freedoms and liberties" afforded to them under the 1997 handover agreement between China and former colonial power Britain, the statement said.

It said earlier on Thursday 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 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."

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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.

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Source: Agencies/aa