• Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

China threatens retaliation over US law on Hong Kong

  • Published at 08:04 am November 28th, 2019
Hong Kong
Protestors wave US flags as they attend a gathering at the Edinburgh place in Hong Kong, China, November 28, 2019 Reuters

Trump signed the legislation under heavy pressure from Congress, where it attracted rare bipartisan support

China threatened retaliation against Washington on Thursday after US President Donald Trump signed legislation supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, just as the world's top two economies edge towards a trade truce.

Activists in the crisis-hit city hailed the move, saying it would help them pile pressure on Beijing-backed local authorities, and staged a "Thanksgiving" rally saluting Trump and US lawmakers.

Trump signed the legislation under heavy pressure from Congress, where it attracted rare bipartisan support, and in a statement spoke of his "respect" for Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling for both sides to "amicably settle their differences."

But Beijing lashed out furiously, summoning the US ambassador, threatening unspecified "firm countermeasures" and warning Washington not to implement the legislation.

"The nature of this is extremely abominable, and harbours absolutely sinister intentions," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement.

"China strongly urges the US side to correct mistakes and change course," the ministry added later.

In Hong Kong, the government expressed "extreme regret" after Trump signed the legislation requiring an annual review of freedoms in Hong Kong and banning the sale of crowd control equipment.

"The two acts are obviously interfering in Hong Kong's internal affairs," the city government said in a statement, warning the move would "send the wrong message to the protesters."

Police comb protest siege site

Hong Kongers have protested in huge numbers over the last six months, fuelled by years of growing fears that authoritarian China is stamping out the city's liberties.

Police on Thursday entered a ransacked university campus where authorities faced off for days with barricaded pro-democracy protesters, gathering a huge haul of petrol bombs and other dangerous materials.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University became the epicentre of the territory's increasingly violent protest movement when clashes broke out on November 17 between police and protesters armed with bows and arrows as well as Molotov cocktails.

The standoff settled into a tense stalemate during which hundreds fled the campus - some making daring escapes, others caught and beaten by officers during failed breakouts - leaving a dwindling core of holdouts surrounded by police cordons.

But in recent days, the last few people barricaded in the campus seemed to disappear.

University staff said they were only able to find a single protester on campus and reporters there struggled to see any major presence in the last 48 hours.

Late on Wednesday, a lone masked man spoke to journalists inside the campus and said that some 20 protesters remained.

More than 5,800 people have been arrested and nearly 1,000 charged, with detentions skyrocketing in the last two months.

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