US House takes hard line on China over Hong Kong, Huawei
WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives passed four pieces of legislation taking a hard line on China, three related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and one commending Canada in its dispute over the extradition of a Chinese telecom executive.
All four measures passed by unanimous voice vote, as members of Congress - Democrats and Republicans - said they wanted to take an aggressive stance on China and show support for Hong Kong following four months of unrest in the city.
China's Foreign Ministry accused the US lawmakers of "sinister intentions" to undermine Hong Kong's stability and warned that bilateral relations would be damaged should the measures become law.
"China must take effective measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty, security, and development interests," ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.
One of the measures, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would require the US secretary of state to certify every year that Hong Kong retained its autonomy in order to keep receiving the special treatment that has allowed it to be a major financial centre.
A second, the Protect Hong Kong Act, would bar commercial exports of military and crowd-control items that Hong Kong police could use against demonstrators.
The Senate has not yet scheduled votes on the legislation, which would send the measures to the White House for US President Donald Trump to sign into law or veto.
However, a Foreign Relations Committee aide said votes on Hong Kong-related measures were expected in the chamber in the coming weeks.
The third measure passed by the House is a non-binding resolution recognising Hong Kong's relationship to the US, condemning Beijing's "interference" in its affairs, and supporting the right of the city's residents to protest.
The Hong Kong government expressed regret over the passage of the legislation and reiterated that foreign legislatures should not interfere in the city's internal affairs.
The fourth measure was another non-binding House resolution commending Canada for its actions related to a US request to extradite Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, who was arrested in Canada in December.
Meng is charged in the US with bank fraud and is accused of misleading HSBC about Huawei's business in Iran, which is under US sanctions. Meng has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition. - REUTERS