HONG KONG, July 16 (Reuters) – China’s top representative office in Hong Kong condemned what it called gross interference by the United States in the Asian financial hub, labeling President Donald Trump’s move to end the city’s special status as “gangster logic and bullying”.
In a strongly worded statement released late on Wednesday, the Hong Kong Liaison Office said the sanctions would not have a substantial impact on the special administrative region and rather damage the United States’ own interests.
“Unreasonable meddling and shameless threats by the United States are typical gangster logic and bullying behaviour,” the statement said.
“No external force can block China’s determination and confidence to maintain national sovereignty and security for Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability.”
The security law imposed by Beijing punishes what China broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics of the law fear it will crush the wide-ranging freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, while supporters say it will bring stability to the city after a year of sometimes violent anti-government protests.
The Chinese government said it had a sovereign duty and legitimate right to maintain national security in Hong Kong and end the “chaos” caused by often violent protests last year.
In response to the law, Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to end preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.
China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday Beijing will impose retaliatory sanctions against U.S. individuals and entities in response to a U.S. law targeting banks which deal with Chinese officials who implement Hong Kong’s security law.
China has summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest at the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, Beijing said.
The Hong Kong government in a statement late on Wednesday said it fully supported the central government in adopting counter-measures against the United States.
“It is hypocritical for the U.S. to introduce measures to attack China by creating issues in (Hong Kong) under the pretext of human rights, democracy and autonomy out of its own political considerations.”
White House discussions are ongoing about potential targets for sanctions over Hong Kong and no final decisions have been made, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Among names being pushed by some China hawks is Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has backed Beijing‘s implementation of the security law, the source said.
Separately Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law said on Wednesday he feels safe in London at the moment but described the extra-territorial reach of national security laws imposed by China as “scary” and urged Britain to do more to help.
(Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Michael Perry)
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