02:44 GMT29 November 2020
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    US President Donald Trump signed into law legislation that bans the export of crowd control weapons to Hong Kong police and supports human rights in the city, the White House said in a statement.

    "The President signed into law: S. 1838, the 'Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019’… and S. 2710, which prohibits US exports of specified police equipment to Hong Kong," the statement said on Wednesday.

    In a separate statement, Trump said he signed the bill out of respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping, China and the people of Hong Kong. He added that he hopes that China and Hong Kong will be able to settle their differences to achieve long-term peace.

    The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, according to US lawmakers, allows for sanctions against officials involved in human rights abuses in the territory and could result in the removal of special trade benefits. The legislation was denounced by the Chinese officials as interference in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and the People's Republic in general.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry Threatens to Retaliate Against US

    China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday threatened it would retaliate against the United States in the wake of Trump’s move to sign into law the bill.

    "We suggest that the United States does not put its foot down because otherwise China will have to take serious countermeasures and the United States will have to bear full responsibility for their consequences," the ministry said in a statement published on its website.

    The ministry also slammed the US’ new laws as an "unconcealed hegemonic behaviour" and meddling in China’s domestic affairs.

    Hong Kong's government criticized the US' act on human rights and democracy in the region, too.

    "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region today (November 28) expresses its decisive protest over the adoption of the US' 'Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act' and another law, which is also related to Hong Kong, and expresses its regret that the United States has repeatedly ignored Hong Kong's concerns about these two acts," the regional government said in a statement.

    The Hong Kong authorities called the US laws obvious unfounded meddling in the region's affairs, saying it might harm US-Hong Kong relations and interests.

    Hong Kong has been gripped by the violent protests since June. The demonstrations were initially a response to an extradition bill but it was officially withdrawn in October. Still, the protests continued with the demonstrators claiming that the authorities excessively use power to suppress them, something denied by the government. Nearly 4,500 people have been detained, more than 1,500 people have been hospitalized and more than 400 security personnel have been injured in the unrest.

    Beijing has repeatedly insisted that the situation in Hong Kong is a result of foreign interference in China's domestic affairs and expressed full support for the local authorities.

    Hong Kong, police, weapons sales, Donald Trump
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