BEIJING (AP) – The mouthpiece of Chinaâ€™s ruling Communist Party said U.S. moves to end some trading privileges for Hong Kong â€œgrossly interfereâ€ in Chinaâ€™s internal affairs and are â€œdoomed to fail.â€
Saturday’s editorial in the newspaper Peopleâ€™s Daily was responding to an announcement from President Donald Trump, after Chinaâ€™s ceremonial parliament bypassed Hong Kongâ€™s local legislature to advance legislation that could severely curtail free speech and opposition political activities in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
It was the â€œfirm determination of all Chinese peopleâ€ to oppose interference in Hong Kong affairs by any external forces, the paper said.
â€œThis hegemonic act of attempting to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and grossly interfere in Chinaâ€™s internal affairs will not frighten the Chinese people and is doomed to fail,” it said. Attempts at â€œforcing China to make concessions on core interests including sovereignty and security through blackmailing or coercion … can only be wishful thinking and day-dreaming!”
China has threatened to retaliate over the U.S. move to cancel trading advantages granted to Hong Kong after its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Tensions over Hong Kong have increased over the past year as China has cracked down on protesters and strengthened its control over the Asian financial hub.
Critics say the vote Thursday at the National People’s Congress to impose security legislation on Hong Kong effectively negates Beijing’s pledge to maintain the territory’s separate civil, legal and economic institutions under the â€œone country, two systems” framework.
Trump said the administration would begin eliminating the â€œfull rangeâ€ of agreements that had given Hong Kong a relationship with the U.S. that mainland China lacked, including exemptions from controls on certain exports. â€œChina has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems, with one country, one system,â€ he said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notified Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer deserving of the preferential trade and commercial status it has enjoyed from the U.S.
Itâ€™s not yet clear what impact the decision will have on U.S. companies that operate in Hong Kong, or on the cityâ€™s position as Asiaâ€™s major financial hub. Beijing has yet to give details on what specific measures it will take in response, although the People’s Daily editorial said China was prepared to make a â€œresolute counterattack and what awaits you can only be a shameful failure.â€
In Hong Kong on Saturday, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said it was â€œcompletely false and wrongâ€ to say the territory was losing its autonomy.
Chinaâ€™s central authorities have the absolute right to take action on national security regarding Hong Kong, Cheng told reporters.
She also criticized the U.S., saying “any other state that tries to use coercion or whatever means with a view to interfering with the sovereign right of a state to pass its own national security law is arguably infringing on the principle of non-intervention under public international law, and that is not acceptable.â€
China passed the Hong Kong national security law after stiff public opposition scuppered a previous attempt by the territoryâ€™s legislature to pass such legislation in 2003.
Beijingâ€™s resolve appeared to have been hardened by months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong that frequently led to violent confrontations between police and the largely youthful demonstrators. China repeatedly accused foreign governments and international organizations of fueling the demonstrations, while showing no direct evidence.
Speculation over Washingtonâ€™s response has included the possibility that those connected with the crackdown, including members of the Hong Kong police force, could face U.S. travel bans or other sanctions.