BEIJING: China said Monday (Dec 2) it had suspended rest and recuperation visits by American warships in Hong Kong in response to a US Bill supporting protesters in the city.
"In response to the unreasonable behaviour of the US side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for US warships to go to Hong Kong for recuperation as of today," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.
Last week, US President Donald Trump signed into law congressional legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong in spite of 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, requires the State Department to certify, at least annually, that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify favourable US trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a world financial centre.
It also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.
Congress passed a second Bill - which Trump also signed - banning the export of crowd-control munitions, such as teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns to Hong Kong police.
In response, China threatened to take "firm countermeasures" if the United States continues to interfere in Hong Kong.
"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.
Over the weekend, Hong Kong demonstrators expressed their "gratitude" to Trump for US support.
The protesters 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.
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