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This Thursday, China’s parliament is set to pass a security law that would severely compromise Hong Kong’s independent legal status. The proposal raises questions on the territory’s current special economic status under US legislation.
During a press conference yesterday, Mr Trump was asked whether he plans to penalise China over Hong Kong and whether he would be implementing restrictions on visas for students and researchers from the Communist nation.
He said: “We’re doing something now. I think you’ll find it very interesting.
“I’ll be talking about it over the next couple of days.”
Pressed on whether this would involve any sanctions, the US president replied: “No, it’s something you’re going to be hearing about before the end of the week, very powerfully I think.”
China threatened counter measures against the United States on Monday if it is punished for plans to impose on Hong Kong a sedition law that the business hub’s security chief has hailed as a new tool to defeat “terrorism”.
The new security law targets treason, subversion and sedition in Hong Kong and comes after months of massive, often-violent pro-democracy protests last year.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters on Monday China will retaliate in kind to any punishment from the US.
Mr Lijian said: “If the US insists on hurting China’s interests, China will have to take every necessary measure to counter and oppose this.”
The refusal to grant Hong Kong democracy has sparked rare bipartisan support in an otherwise bitterly divided Washington during the Trump administration.
Now the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has criticised Washington for getting involved in China’s internal matters.
According to CGTN, Mr Lavrov said: “The issues that (the US) is now hyping concerting Hong Kong are related to the internal affairs of China.
“We have experienced this more than once, and, unfortunately, what the United States is saying now about China does not surprise us, although, in general, this is, of course, unprecedented.”
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He added any attempts to create a scandal around the situation would harm the credibility of the US.
His comments come after national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in an interview with NBC that the new legislation will lead to sanctions.
Mr O’Brien said: “It looks like with this national security law they’re going to basically take over Hong Kong and if they do … Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo will likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy.
“And if that happens there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China.”
In November last year, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires the State Department to certify that the city retains enough autonomy to justify favourable US trading terms.
On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused “some political forces in the US” of “taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new Cold War”.
He added that US officials should focus on the coronavirus outbreak in the US, which has become the hardest-hit country in the world.
Tensions and arguments between the two countries has escalated following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
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