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It was eventually withdrawn, but the resulting public anger unleashed broader demands and led to violent clashes between police and protesters.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