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China vows to retaliate as Hong Kong bill advances in US

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Police officers push through a barricade set up by protesters to block an entrance to the Kowloon MTR station in Hong Kong on September 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

China has vowed to “hit back forcefully” at the United States, after the US Congress officially pushed forward legislation related to Hong Kong, a move that Beijing considers interference in its affairs.

The bill — which would support “democratic freedoms” in the Asian financial hub — is an attempt to “wantonly interfere in China’s domestic affairs” and shows the “malicious intention of some in the US Congress to contain China’s development,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement on Thursday.

“Passing the bill will only encourage the radical and violent forces in Hong Kong and send Hong Kong further into chaos,” Geng said. “It will harm not only China’s interests, but also the US’s interests.”

“China will hit back forcefully at any US action that aims to hurt China’s interests,” the Chinese official added.

The so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 moved through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, setting the stage for possible approval in both chambers of the US Congress in the coming weeks.

Beijing demands that the US Congress drop the bill to prevent “further strain on Sino-US relations,” Geng said in the statement.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council said in a separate statement that the bill would “pour oil on the flame” by supporting anti-China forces and rioters in Hong Kong.

Unrest began in Hong Kong in June, when people started taking to the streets to protest a bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial abroad.

Earlier this month, the government in Hong Kong killed the bill. But the protests have persisted.

The Chinese government says foreign countries, mainly the United States and Britain, have been provoking the protesters by issuing statements of support. Beijing has asked the two countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997.

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