China has reacted with fury to Donald Trump’s decision to sign bills in support of the Hong Kong protesters.
The US President has approved legislation that threatens sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials for human rights abuses in the territory.
Trump’s move to back pro-democracy protesters has angered Beijing, which has called the bill “full of prejudice and arrogance”.
China has promised to retaliate, with its Foreign Ministry vowing “firm counter measures”.
Trump’s Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act seeks to provide greater scrutiny of Hong Kong’s autonomy from China.
Another bill the President signed banned any exports of munitions like tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray to Hong Kong authorities.
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi [Jinping], China, and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in a statement.
“They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”
Protests have consumed Hong Kong for the past five months since the government attempted to introduce Chinese extradition.
Activists said that would undermine the one party two systems governance underpinning Hong Kong, and after months of demonstrations government leader Carrie Lam killed the bill.
However, since then protests have grown violent, with activists attacking police and police using live rounds on demonstrators.
In response China called the legislation a violation of international law and denounced the US as the “biggest black hand” behind the instability in Hong Kong.
“This is a pure interference in China’s internal affairs,” China’s ministry of foreign affairs said.
“This bill, which has been denounced by all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, is full of prejudice and arrogance. It treats Hong Kong with intimidation and threats.
“We would like to inform the United States that Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong and that its affairs are purely internal affairs of China … The US plot is doomed to failure.”
The move threatens to disrupt slow progress made towards ending the US-China trade war, which has seen the superpowers move closer to achieving a so-called phase one agreement.