CHINA summoned the US ambassador to ‘strongly protest’ yesterday after Donald Trump signed a bill supporting human rights in Hong Kong.
Terry Branstad was told by vice foreign minister Le Yucheng the move constituted ‘serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law’.
Mr Trump said he signed the bills, which were passed by near unanimous consent, ‘out of respect’ for his Chinese counterpart Xi Jingping, even as he expressed concerns they would complicate a trade deal with Beijing.
He said: ‘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.’
Mr Le urged the US to not implement the bills to prevent greater damage to relations with China, which has accused the West of orchestrating the mass pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong for the past six months.
The laws approve sanctions on officials who carry out human rights abuses, an annual review of Hong Kong’s favourable trade status and prohibit the export of certain non-lethal munitions to police.
Activist Joshua Wong hailed the legislation and said he hoped it would spur other western nations to follow.
But Hong Kong’s former chief executive CY Leung accused the US of using the territory as a ‘proxy’ to hit back against Beijing and said the protests could lead to fewer freedoms.
Meanwhile, police started clearing Polytechnic University, which became a flashpoint for clashes with anti-government protesters.