BEIJING – The Chinese government warned Wednesday that it would retaliate strongly to the United States’ Lower House passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which seeks to subject the former British colony’s special status to Washington’s scrutiny.
“China will definitely take strong countermeasures in response to the wrong decisions by the US side to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement published on its website.
In this regard, Beijing expressed its opposition and outrage to the US House of Representatives passing the draft law, and urged Washington “to come to a clear assessment of the situation” and “stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs before falling off the edge of the cliff.”
According to Beijing, “the current situation in Hong Kong has nothing to do with human rights or democracy. The real issue is to promptly end violence, restore order and safeguard the rule of law.”
China considers that the approval of the draft law “fully exposes the shocking hypocrisy of some in the US on human rights and democracy and their malicious intention to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability to contain China’s development.”
The approved draft envisages that both the departments of State and Commerce inform the US Congress annually as to whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China to deserve its special treatment from the US while assessing whether Beijing has eroded basic freedoms and the rule of law in the former colony.
According to the bill, Congress will receive a list of those who allegedly abducted and tortured any individual in Hong Kong and ban them from entering the US, among other measures.
Echoing Beijing’s tone, the Hong Kong government expressed its disapproval of the recent passage of the bill and claimed, “since the return to the Motherland, the HKSAR has been exercising... a high degree of autonomy” that has ensured rights and freedoms otherwise unthinkable in mainland China.
Moreover, in view of the possible change in trade status with the US – the island’s second largest trading partner, after mainland China – the Hong Kong government underlined that “Hong Kong is a separate customs territory under the Basic Law.”
“We have been implementing comprehensive control on import, export and re-export of strategic commodities in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong and international control lists, and carrying out rigorous enforcement,” said the Hong Kong government in a statement to the press. “We will continue to maintain close co-operation with the US and other trading partners.”
On Monday, some 130,000 people took part in a rally in Hong Kong in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
The protests, sparked in June following a contentious proposed extradition law, mutated into a movement that seeks an improvement in the democratic mechanisms that govern it and in opposition to Beijing’s alleged authoritarianism.
However, some protesters have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful protests and violent clashes with the police are common.