US President Donald Trump has warned the United States would react “very strongly” against what he calls an attempt by China to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office of the commissioner to Hong Kong has said Beijing is determined to implement the “one country, two systems” policy with regards to Hong Kong and opposes any external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, Trump, who has ratcheted up his anti-China rhetoric in the run-up to November election, said that “nobody knows yet” the details of China’s plan. “If it happens we’ll address that issue very strongly.”
Without elaborating, Trump said he would have a full statement on the proposals at an "appropriate time".
Meanwhile, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the China’s National People’s Congress, said details would be released Friday when the parliament holds its annual session.
“In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People’s Congress (NPC) is exercising its constitutional power” so that a new legal framework and enforcement mechanism are established to help safeguard national security in Hong Kong, he told a briefing.
China has said the United States is “blackmailing” Hong Kong by invoking domestic legislation and threatening to end the US’s especial treatment of the Chinese territory over its treatment of violent anti-government protesters.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed the treatment of what he called activists in Hong Kong complicated the assessment of whether the territory remained highly autonomous, a requirement for special treatments the city gets under the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
The semi-autonomous Chinese territory was rocked by turbulent protests starting in June last year, when some people began protesting against a proposed extradition bill across the city. The proposal has since been withdrawn.
The protesters often heavily vandalized shops and public property and attacked citizens believed to be pro-government. However, since the government imposed a ban on public meetings at the end of this March to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has been relatively calm.
Also on Thursday, Democratic and Republican US senators vowed to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening the Hong Kong act’s sanctions provisions.