China on Thursday hit back against proposed U.S. legislation to support democratic freedoms in Hong Kong by piling pressure on Chinese officials.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which passed U.S. congressional committees on Wednesday, “constitutes gross interference in China’s internal affairs,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
The bill, which will be up for vote in both chambers in coming weeks, would require the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials for suppressing “basic freedoms” in Hong Kong.
“The approval of the act by U.S. congressional committees can only embolden radicals and violent activists to further destabilise Hong Kong, which will jeopardise the interests of both China and the U.S.,” Geng said.
He said that there were more than 80,000 U.S. citizens and 1,300 U.S. companies in Hong Kong, and that it was in Washington’s interest that the Asian financial hub remain stable and prosperous.
“Any U.S. move that undermines China’s interests will be met with our vigorous response,” Geng said.
Hong Kong residents have been protesting since June and are demanding greater democracy.
The former British colony is being governed by Beijing under the “One country, two systems” principle, but many fear that the Chinese government is encroaching on their freedoms.