China’s foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador on Thursday, urging Washington to refrain from applying a bill supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement to “avoid further damage” to relations.
Chinese vice foreign minister Le Yucheng lodged a “strong protest” with Ambassador Terry Branstad after President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law.
The passage of the bill comes as the world’s two biggest economies are locked in negotiations to finalise a partial deal to soothe their trade war.
“Le stressed that China strongly urges the US side to correct mistakes and change course,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Le also urged the United States to “refrain from putting the bill into practice, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, so as to avoid further damage to China-US relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas”.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act requires the US president to annually review the city’s favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory’s freedoms are quashed.
Trump also signed legislation banning sales of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment used by Hong Kong security forces in putting down the protests.