China summons US envoy over Hong Kong human rights bill

Beijing | China on Friday summoned a top American diplomat here and lodged a diplomatic protest objecting to a proposed bill that threatens to remove Hong Kong’s status as a US special trading partner, amid massive street protests in its autonomous territory against an extradition bill.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Robert Forden, the deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Beijing, and lodged the protest over the proposed bill, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Le said China will not accept foreign forces meddling in Hong Kong affairs, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Hong Kong has been witnessing massive protests since June 9 with over a million people taking to the streets opposing the proposed extradition bill over fears that it would allow China to round up opponents to face trial on the mainland China, where the courts are under the Communist Party control.

China’s warning came a day after US lawmakers reintroduced proposed legislation to “reaffirm the US commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law at a time when these freedoms and Hong Kong’s autonomy are being eroded through interference by the Chinese government and Communist Party”.

The legislation would require an annual assessment of Hong Kong’s political autonomy to determine whether it still qualifies for special trade status with the US. It would also threaten sanctions and travel restrictions against individuals found to be involved in disappearances in the semi-autonomous region.

Le’s protest came after Beijing issued a stern warning to the US over the extradition bill asserting that the instability in the city does not serve American interests.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China was resolutely opposed to a move by US lawmakers to introduce bipartisan legislation that would require the US secretary of state to certify Hong Kong’s autonomy each year to justify special treatment for the city.

“The US is one of Hong Kong’s major trading partners. It is in the interest of the US that Hong Kong can continue to be prosperous and stable. It is not good for the United States to mess up Hong Kong,” Geng said.

“I would like to emphasise China’s determination and will to uphold its unshakeable sovereign and development. Any attempt to create chaos in Hong Kong and undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability will be confronted by all Chinese people, including the vast number of Hong Kong compatriots,” he said.

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