China summons US envoy to protest against HK Bill
It demands the US scrap legislation that supports rights, democracy in the city
BEIJING: China summoned the US Ambassador to demand that the US scrap legislation backing Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, or "bear all the consequences", :China's Foreign Ministry said yesterday.
The Hong Kong Bill awaiting US President Donald Trump's signature supports human rights and democracy while threatening to revoke the territory's special economic status.
Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned US Ambassador Terry Branstad on Monday to voice a "strong protest" over the Bill.
It "brazenly interferes in China's internal affairs" and "indulges and supports the violent criminal behaviour by anti-China disrupting Hong Kong forces", the ministry said.
A US embassy spokesman said Mr Branstad told Mr Zheng that the US was watching the situation in Hong Kong "with grave concern".
"He conveyed we condemn all forms of violence and intimidation," the spokesman said.
CRISIS COMMAND CENTRE
In a related development, Reuters reported that the Chinese leadership has set up a crisis command centre on its side of the border and is considering replacing its official liaison.
As protests roil Hong Kong, top Chinese leaders have been managing their response from the outskirts of Shenzhen, bypassing the formal bureaucracy. Typically, communications between Beijing and Hong Kong are conducted through a Chinese government body - the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Office in Hong Kong said the Reuters report was false in a statement on its website.
It reiterated that China was committed to the "one country, two systems" policy that governs Hong Kong's affairs and was opposed to "external forces" interfering in the city's affairs.
Yesterday, Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam acknowledged that public dissatisfaction with her government fuelled a landslide win by pro-democracy candidates.
And she drew fresh criticism by offering no new concessions.
Candidates opposing control by China seized an overwhelming majority of 452 elected seats in the city's 18 district councils, historically dominated by a Beijing-aligned establishment.
Officials at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where police and protesters clashed violently more than a week ago, said they searched the entire campus yesterday to find just one remaining holdout.
However, campus officials added that they could not rule out the possibility that some protesters remained hidden. - AFP, REUTERS