The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday aimed at supporting protesters in Hong Kong and warning China against a violent suppression of the demonstrations — drawing a rebuke from Beijing.
China reiterated Wednesday a threat to impose unspecified retaliation if the bill became law and urged the U.S. to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs. Ma Zhaoxu, vice minister of foreign affairs in Beijing, later summoned William Klein, a U.S. embassy official, and raised strong objections about the bill. Separately, Hong Kong’s government expressed “extreme regret” and the legislation would negatively impact relations with the U.S.
The vote marks a challenge to the government in Beijing just as the U.S. and China, the world’s largest economies, seek to close a preliminary agreement to end their trade war. The Senate measure would require the State Department to certify annually whether Hong Kong remains sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to justify special trade privileges, as well as protect U.S. citizens from rendition to China through measures including sanctions on mainland officials.