China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other American lawmakers overreached their authority by engaging with what he termed Hong Kong separatists.
Legislation is moving through the House and Senate that would require annual assessments of whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify Hong Kong's unique treatment under USA law.
President Donald Trump warned Beijing on August 18 that trade talks would suffer if China resorts to violent suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Protests aimed at promoting democracy in the Chinese territory have continued, despite the Hong Kong government's promise to withdraw extradition legislation that sparked protests. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in June to protest that legislation, fearing it would threaten the autonomy of the city and endanger dissidents.
By linking the trade war and Hong Kong protests, this much is clear-Trump is dangling the trade agreement in front of China with the hope that it will impress upon Beijing the need for moderation in Hong Kong. "We're implementing and incorporating those". The two versions of the legislation would still have to be reconciled before heading to Trump to be signed into law.
The hearing on Tuesday examined legislation that would end Hong Kong's special trading status with the USA unless the State Department each year certifies that the city's authorities are respecting human rights and rule of law.
Joshua Wong said it was "a remarkable day" to have the support of USA lawmakers."We will continue our uphill battle until the day we enjoy freedom and democracy", he said.
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"This is a message to these Hong Kong people that we are not isolated in this fight", Ho said. "We are in the forefront of this great noble fight for universal values".
USA assistance to Hong Kong enjoys an unusually bipartisan measure of support in Washington, uniting lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in support of the movement.
Denise Ho, a singer and pro-democracy activist based in Hong Kong, thanked Pelosi for the "warm welcome" during their visit to the Capitol amid what she called a "very hard but also very empowering" time in Hong Kong. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said Wednesday the hearing was beamed around the world and "no doubt" watched closely by the Chinese government.
Republicans and Democrats on the panel, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, expressed their support.
A Chinese foreign affairs official in Hong Kong hit out at Pelosi for "blatant interference in the affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and China's affairs" on the pretext of supporting freedom and justice. China has benefited from this, and lawmakers believe, used it to evade US export controls and sanctions. I would say that I'm fully aware of the act.
Similar legislation in the Senate also has support from members of both parties, including U.S. Sen.
He also said he had no information on the possibility the administration could use other legal avenues to identify individuals for financial sanctions.