The Chinese ministry of foreign affairs has released a statement condemning President Trump for signing a bill in support of the Hong Kong protesters. Beijing told Trump to stay out of it because Hong Kong and China are “one country,” albeit with “two systems.” It is an internal affair, China says, and therefore none of Trump’s business.
The bill China refers to is the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. It requires the State Department to certify every year that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to retain its special U.S. trading consideration, CNBC explains. Another bill, also signed by President Trump, bans the sale of munitions like tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.
“We are officially telling the U.S. and the handful of opposition politicians in Hong Kong who follow America’s lead to not underestimate our determination to protect Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, don’t underestimate our belief to protect the ‘one country, two systems policy’ and don’t underestimate our capabilities and strategies in protecting our country’s sovereignty, safety, growth and rights,” the ministry said in response to these bills.
“This so-called bill will only make the Chinese people, including our compatriots in Hong Kong, further understand the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the United States. It will only make the Chinese people more united and make the American plot doomed to fail,” China’s foreign ministry added.
The Hong Kong government isn’t happy with the bills either. “These two bills are an obvious intervention of Hong Kong’s internal affairs, they are unnecessary and without grounds, they will also harm the relationship and interests between Hong Kong and the U.S.,” Hong Kong said in an official statement. A government spokesman added that the bill send a “wrong message” to the protesters.
Lastly, China informs the United States: “We advise the U.S. not to act arbitrarily, or else China must firmly counteract, and the U.S. must bear all resulting consequences.”
Such warnings are partially par for the course with authoritarian regimes, but you have to take China seriously. Not because they may act against the United States, but because they will almost certainly become more aggressive in Hong Kong. That’s how China responds to criticism: “Oh, you want us to stop doing it? Guess what, we’ll do it even more!” It is a bit childish perhaps, but it has been China’s modus operandi for decades.
In fact, that’s why I warned back in August that Westerners promoting the Hong Kong protesters were playing with fire.
Passing a bill and having President Trump sign it may make Americans (and especially Republicans) feel good about themselves for two minutes, but it can have serious repercussions for the people of Hong Kong.