China has summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to lodge a protest as it accuses Washington of interference over Hong Kong.
Beijing says the US has obstructed its development by its recent steps to sanction officials who undermine local autonomy in Hong Kong.
Vice foreign minister Zheng Zeguang told ambassador Terry Branstad that threatened sanctions and the withdrawal of special trading privileges for Hong Kong are not about democracy and freedom in the semi-autonomous territory but an attempt to contain China’s development.
In comments carried after the meeting by state media, Mr Zheng said: “I want to warn the US sternly that any bullying and unfairness imposed on China by the US will meet resolute counter attack from China and the U.S. attempt to obstruct China’s development is doomed to failure.”
President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law on Tuesday, as well as an executive order affirming an earlier decision to eliminate preferential treatment that has been given to Hong Kong, but not mainland China.
The US and Britain have grown increasingly concerned over developments in Hong Kong, and in particular China’s imposition of a national security law that is seen as a threat to freedom of speech and the right to protest.
At the same time, the Trump administration has challenged China on multiple fronts, treating it as a strategic competitor, an approach that seems only likely to expand as the president faces a tough battle for re-election this fall.
Mr Zheng told Mr Branstad that Washington has also “interfered with China’s internal affairs and harmed China’s interests on the issues of Xinjiang, Tibet and the South China Sea, further exposing its nature of naked hegemony”.
He urged the US not to go “further and further on the wrong path.”
The US embassy did not respond immediately to a request for comment.