By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
Fresh tensions between the U.S. and China emerged Wednesday, after Beijing threatened to retaliate over the passage of measures in Washington aimed at supporting Hong Kong protesters.
Three bills were approved in the House of Representatives Wednesday evening, one supporting the right of individuals to protest, another allowing for the U.S. to check on Beijing’s influence over the territory and a third aimed at preventing U.S. weapons from being used by police against protesters.
“If the relevant act were to become law, it wouldn’t only harm China’s interests and China-U.S. relations, but would also seriously damage U.S. interests,” said Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, in a statement on the body’s website . “China will definitely take strong countermeasures in response to the wrong decisions by the U.S. side to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The three bills, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said are reminders of how the U.S. must support human rights despite significant commercial interests in China, will now head to the Senate. Another piece of nonbinding legislation commended Canada for its response to a U.S. request to extradite Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies, who was arrested in Vancouver over a year ago.
U.S. stock futures pulled back slightly on Wednesday, with Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +1.55% down 45 points to 26,958, and the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y -0.76% dropping 3 basis points to 1.7423%.
Geng said while China was working to restore law and order in Hong Kong, U.S. lawmakers were “disregarding and distorting facts,” by turning criminal acts and violence against police into issues of “human rights or democracy.”
“That is a stark double standard. It fully exposes the shocking hypocrisy of some in the U.S. on human rights and democracy and their malicious intention to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability to contain China’s development,” said Geng, who urged the U.S. to “stop meddling.”
The comments come as the U.S. and China continue to work toward a trade agreement, with a partial deal announced last week — though caution emerged amid reports Beijing wants further meetings before moving forward.
Protests in Hong Kong have intensified and turned violent at times in the past months, amid objections by demonstrators to an extradition bill proposed by the territory’s government. The movement has ensnared U.S. businesses and even, more recently, the National Basketball Association after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Laker’s NBA star LeBron James has attracted ire from Hong Kong protesters, who reportedly stamped on and burned a jersey with his name on it Tuesday after he suggested that free speech had consequences.