WASHINGTON (News Nation) — President Donald Trump signed legislation and an executive order on Tuesday that he said will hold China accountable for its “oppressive actions” against the people of Hong Kong.
The legislation and order are part of the Trump administration’s stepped-up offensive against China for what he calls the rising Asian superpower’s exploitation of America and its effort to conceal details about the human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus from the world.
The legislation Trump signed into law targets police units that have cracked down on Hong Kong protesters as well as Chinese Communist Party officials responsible for imposing a new, strict national security law widely seen as chipping away at Hong Kong’s autonomy. The mandatory sanctions are also required to be imposed on banks that conduct business with the officials.
Lawmakers from both parties have urged Trump to take strong action in response to China’s new national security law that erodes the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. Hong Kong is considered a special administrative region within China and has its own governing and economic systems.
“This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom,” Trump said. “Their freedom has been taken away. Their rights have been taken away, and with it goes Hong Kong in my opinion because it will no longer be able to compete with free markets. A lot of people will be leaving Hong Kong, I suspect.”
China called the legislation gross interference in its internal affairs and warned it would respond by imposing sanctions on related American individuals and entities.
“The American side’s attempts to obstruct the implementation of Hong Kong’s national security law will never succeed,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It said the law would ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the semi-autonomous territory.
Trump’s Rose Garden news conference came just hours after his expected Democratic presidential opponent Joe Biden unveiled a $2 trillion clean-energy plan during a speech in Delaware.
“Today, Joe Biden gave a speech in which he said that the core of his economic agenda is a hard-left crusade against American energy. He wants to kill American energy,” Trump said.
Biden also addressed Trump during his speech.
“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax.’ When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’ Good-paying union jobs that put Americans to work,” he said.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.