China's top representative office in Hong Kong has condemned what it calls gross interference by the United States in the Asian financial hub, labelling 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 (local time), China's foreign ministry said Beijing will impose retaliatory sanctions against American individuals and entities in response to a US law targeting banks that deal with Chinese officials who implement Hong Kong's security law.
“The US attempt to obstruct the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong will never succeed,” the statement said.
"We urge the US side to correct its mistakes, refrain from implementing the act and stop interfering in China's internal affairs in any way. China will firmly respond if the US goes ahead."
Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong said Trump’s decision will only damage US interests, while having little impact on Hong Kong.
"Unreasonable meddling and shameless threats by the United States are typical gangster logic and bullying behaviour," their 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.
In response to the law, Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to end preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong.
Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang told ambassador Terry Branstad that threatened sanctions and the withdrawal of special trading privileges for Hong Kong were not about democracy and freedom in the semi-autonomous territory but an attempt to contain China's development, The Associated Press reported.
"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 US attempt to obstruct China's development is doomed to failure," he said, according to an account of Wednesday's meeting carried by state media.
Zheng told Branstad that the US had 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 Hong Kong government said it fully supported the central government in adopting counter-measures against the United States.
"It is hypocritical for the US 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."
Meanwhile, Trump has not ruled out additional sanctions on top Chinese officials as a result of actions he took to punish China for its handling of Hong Kong, a White House National Security Council spokesman said.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which Trump signed on Tuesday, allows him to impose sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese officials and financial institutions involved in the imposition of China's new national security law in Hong Kong.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot noted Trump last week issued sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials for their treatment of minority Uighur Muslims.
"In no way has he taken anything off the table with respect to further sanctions of party officials for actions in Hong Kong or on other issues. Any suggestion otherwise by anonymous sources is flat out wrong," Ullyot said on Wednesday.
- with Reuters and AAP
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