China Protests US Initiatives In Support Of Hong Kong

BEIJING (AP) – China convened on Thursday the US ambassador, Terry Branstad, to express his "firm protest" following the news that US President Donald Trump had promulgated two human rights initiatives in Hong Kong.

Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Le Yucheng, told Branstad that the decision was a "serious interference in Chinese internal affairs and a serious violation of international law."

He described the signing of the initiatives as a "blatant hegemonic action" and urged the United States not to apply the laws to prevent further damage in bilateral relations.

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The Chinese Foreign Ministry had previously indicated in a statement that Beijing would act in reciprocity, adding that the peoples of Hong Kong and China were opposed to the measure.

Trump promulgated the initiatives, which received almost unanimous support in both houses of Congress, even after he expressed concerns that they could complicate negotiations for a trade pact with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

"I signed these measures out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong," Trump said in a statement. "They are promulgated in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to resolve their differences amicably for the peace and prosperity of all in the long term."

The first of the measures signed by Trump orders sanctions against Chinese and Hong Kong officials who violate human rights and requires an annual review of the favorable commercial status that Washington grants to Hong Kong.

The other measure prohibits the sale of certain non-lethal ammunition to the Hong Kong police, including tear gas, pepper gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and stun guns. The initiative was approved unanimously.

Congress approved the measures last week after months of discontent in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Before Wednesday's announcement, Trump had only promised to give them a "good look" at the initiatives.

China's Foreign Ministry said the laws violated the "fundamental norms of international relations."

“On the United States side, the facts were ignored, black turned white and blatantly encouraged violent criminals that caused disturbances and harmed innocent residents of the city, trampled on the rule of law and put social order at risk,” The Ministry said in its statement.

The basic intention of the laws is to undermine Hong Kong's prosperity and stability as well as the "historical progress of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," said the Chinese Ministry.

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Associated Press journalists Aamer Madhani in Washington and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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