China warns US it will retaliate on moves over Hong Kong; asks state firms to halt purchases of US soybeans and pork

  • AseanPlus News
  • Monday, 01 Jun 2020

Protesters gesture with five fingers, signifying the "Five demands - not one less" in a shopping mall during a protest against China's national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong, on Monday (June 1). China's ruling Communist Party says US moves to end some trading privileges extended to Hong Kong grossly interfere in China's internal affairs and are doomed to fail. - AP

BEIJING (Reuters): China said on Monday (June 1) US attempts to harm Chinese interests will be met with firm countermeasures, criticising a US decision to begin ending special treatment for Hong Kong as well as actions against Chinese students and companies.

And China has also asked its state-owned firms to halt purchases of soybeans and pork from the United States, two people familiar with the matter said, after Washington said it would eliminate special US treatment for Hong Kong to punish Beijing.

China could also expand the order to include additional US farm goods if Washington took further action, the sources said.

China's parliament last week voted to move forward with imposing national security legislation on Hong Kong, which US President Donald Trump said on Friday was a tragedy for the people of the city, and which violated China's promise to protect its autonomy.

Trump ordered his administration to begin the process of eliminating special U.S. treatment for Hong Kong to punish China, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls.

But he stopped short of calling an immediate end to privileges that have helped the former British colony remain a global financial centre.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China firmly opposed the U.S. steps.

"The announced measures severely interfere with China's internal affairs, damage U.S.-China relations, and will harm both sides. China is firmly opposed to this," Zhao told reporters during a regular briefing.

"Any words or actions by the US that harm China's interests will meet with China's firm counterattack," he said.

But Hong Kong shares surged more than 3% on Monday as investors took comfort that Trump did not immediately end the special U.S. privileges.

At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up 3.36%, its biggest one-day percentage gain since March 25.

"Chinese policymakers would likely want to see precisely what the US implements before responding with further policy adjustments or retaliation of their own," Goldman Sachs wrote in a note on Sunday.

In making his Friday announcement, Trump used some of his toughest rhetoric yet against China, saying it had broken its word over Hong Kong's autonomy by moving to impose the new national security legislation and the territory no longer warranted U.S. economic privileges.

Trump said China's "malfeasance" was responsible for massive suffering and economic damage worldwide.

He said the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for "smothering - absolutely smothering - Hong Kong's freedom" but he did not name any of the potential sanctions targets.

Trump gave no time frame for the action, suggesting he may be trying to buy time before deciding whether to implement the most drastic measures, which have drawn strong resistance from U.S. companies operating in Hong Kong.

Earlier, Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government told the United States to keep out of the national security debate, and warned that withdrawal of the financial hub's special status could backfire on the US economy. - Reuters
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China , US , Worsening Ties , Disagreement , Honf Kong


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