China state media steps up US criticism for Hong Kong meddling

State media in China accused US politicians of meddling in China's domestic affairs on Nov 24, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG, XINHUA) - Chinese state media stepped up criticism of the United States and accused it of meddling in China's domestic affairs, as President Donald Trump deliberates signing into law an amendment that would require annual reviews of Hong Kong's special trading status with it.

Attempts to use Hong Kong "to contain China's development is a pipe dream", according to the state-run People's Daily, while Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday (Nov 23) called the US the "biggest destabilising element".

American politicians risk pushing the city into a "more dangerous abyss", as they use the "Hong Kong card" to contain China's growth, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Sunday.

"Some US politicians have gone into a frenzy to do whatever to curtail and contain China, by fair means or foul," the People's Daily said in a front-page commentary.

"Their evil hope is that Hong Kong will go down in chaos and become a card in their hands to hold back China's development."

Mr Trump has declined to say if he will sign the amendment to the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, which was passed by the House and Senate.

He has the option to sign it into law or allow it to become law without his signature by taking no action for 10 days.

Alternatively, he could return it to Congress with a veto. At that point, Congress could override the veto with two-thirds votes in both chambers.

The changes to the Act would require annual reviews of Hong Kong's special trading status under US law to determine if it remained "sufficiently autonomous" from Beijing to justify its privileges.

Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Sunday that the financial markets remained normal after the passage of Hong Kong-related bills by the US Congress.

Local financial markets reacted calmly and operated normally, Mr Chan said in an online article, citing a firm Hong Kong dollar, stable interest rates, and no signs of massive capital flight. Mr Chan said the Hong Kong government will closely monitor and assess the situation.

The financial secretary urged the United States to be cautious and avoid to harm the interests of both sides. "The bills are unwarranted and the United States should not interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong."

The United States has enormous economic interests in Hong Kong as it has in the past 10 years earned the largest worldwide bilateral trade surplus in trade with Hong Kong and more than 1,300 US companies operate in the city, Mr Chan said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong has become less reliant on economic ties with the United States. With the rapid development in Asia, the mainland has become Hong Kong's largest trading partner, and the United States, in the fourth place, accounted for only 6.6 per cent of Hong Kong's foreign goods trade in 2018, Mr Chan said.

He expects Hong Kong's closer economic ties with the mainland to generate new opportunities.

Foreign Minister Wang, in a meeting with his Dutch counterpart in Japan on Saturday, said Washington's move was a threat to Hong Kong's stability.

"The US has interfered in China's internal affairs and tried to damage our 'one country, two systems' principle and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," according to remarks made by Mr Wang published on the Foreign Ministry website.

It "violates the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations", he said.

The US President said last week that "we're going to take a very good look at it", but declined to say if he would sign it.

Mr Trump told Fox News that the only reason Chinese President Xi Jinping isn't sending soldiers into the Hong Kong "is because I'm saying it's going to affect our trade deal".

Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan took a conciliatory line on Saturday, according to state-owned China Global Television Network.

In a meeting with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, the vice-president called on both sides to handle strategic issues in bilateral ties with a broader vision and a longer-term perspective.

The two countries, which have many more similarities than differences, would benefit from cooperation and would both suffer in any confrontation, CGTN cited Mr Wang as saying.

The nations should follow the "direction and the principles set by Chinese President Xi and US President Trump in their meetings", and should "consider a series of major strategic issues in bilateral ties in an objective and reasonable manner", he said, according to CGTN.

China has vowed to take countermeasures against the US legislation, but has to balance its response and the effects it would have on trade talks with Washington, which are entering their final stages in phase one of a deal.

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