Beijing, Nov 28 (PTI) Warning of 'countermeasures' against the US after President Donald Trump signed a bill supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, a livid China on Thursday summoned the US envoy and asked Washington to refrain from putting the law into effect to 'avoid further damage' to bilateral ties.
China's action came just hours after Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 into law.
The bill would require the State Department to certify once a year that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to retain its special US trading consideration -- a status that helps its economy.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to lodge a strong protest against the US move.
'China strongly urges the US to correct its mistake and make a fresh start, not to put the Act into effect, and immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs or interfering in China's internal affairs so as to avoid causing further damage to bilateral ties and cooperation in important areas between China and the United States,' Le told Branstad.
Le said China will take 'countermeasures' in response to the 'wrong move' taken by the US and America must bear all the consequences that may ensue, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the Chinese government and the people express strong indignation and firm opposition against Trump's action.
Hong Kong is part of China and its affairs are China's internal affairs, brooking no interference from any foreign government or force, Le said.
The Chinese government has unswerving determination to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, implement 'one country, two systems' principle and oppose any external force in interfering in Hong Kong affairs, he stressed.
Earlier, a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement accused the US of harbouring 'sinister intentions' and warned of 'countermeasures' after Trump signed the bill.
'This is a severe interference in Hong Kong's affairs, which are China's internal affairs. It is also in serious violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations. The Chinese government and people firmly oppose such stark hegemonic acts,' the statement said.
'The nature of this is extremely abominable, and harbours absolutely sinister intentions,' it said.
'This act will only further expose the malicious and hegemonic nature of US intentions to the Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots. And the Chinese people will only stand in greater solidarity. The US attempts are bound to fail,' it said.
But at the same time, it sought to reassure that China would implement the 'one country two system' formula under which Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous territory which operates under the 'one country, two systems' principle - a structure that grants the city’s citizens some degree of financial and legal independence from the mainland.
Hong Kong has been shaken by massive, sometimes violent, protests initially organised to oppose a now-suspended bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. These protests have now turned into a wider movement for democratic reforms.
'The Chinese government is determined in opposing foreign interference in Hong Kong's affairs,' the statement said.
'We are determined in implementing the 'one country, two systems' principle and safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge the US not to continue going down the wrong path, or China will take countermeasures, and the US must bear all consequences,' it said. The legislation came at a time when China and the US reached an advanced stage of negotiations to sign phase one agreement to end a trade war between the two world's largest economies. PTI KJV NSA SCY AKJ SCY