President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law congressional legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong drawing a furious response from Beijing, which promised ‘firm countermeasures’.
The legislation, approved unanimously by the Senate and all but one member of the House of Representatives last week, requires Hong Kong’s special trade status with the US to be reviewed annually by the State Department, and also threatens sanctions for human rights violations.
Trump also signed, a second bill that bans the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber-coated 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.
The Chinese foreign office was quick to condemn the US announcement and promised “firm countermeasures”.
Protesters in Hong Kong flooded the streets since June, angered first by a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to China for trial. That bill has now been dropped, but the protests have evolved into wider calls for democracy and “high degree of autonomy” from China.