World

China will ‘fight back’ after US backs Hong Kong protesters

HONG KONG: China yesterday accused the United States of seeking to "destroy" Hong Kong and threatened retaliation, after Congress passed new legislation supporting the pro-democracy movement that has thrown the city into six months of turmoil.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act "indulges violent criminals" China blames for the worsening unrest and aims to "muddle or even destroy Hong Kong".

The legislation - which now awaits President Donald Trump's signature into law - backs universal suffrage, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and sanctions against those who contravene such principles.

It was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday despite warnings from China, which angrily rejects criticism of its handling of Hong Kong.

Mr Wang, Beijing's top diplomat, condemned the bill as "naked interference in China's internal affairs", according to the Foreign Ministry, which said the comments were made during a meeting in Beijing with former US Defence Secretary William Cohen.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman also vowed that China would "take effective measures to resolutely fight back", giving no details.

Hong Kong's months of protest began with a now-shelved bill to allow extraditions to mainland China, which revived fears that Beijing was slicing into the city's freedoms.

Millions of angry citizens have taken to the streets in giant marches, and protesters have repeatedly clashed with police in a movement that has widened to include calls for democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

The resistance has focused in recent days on the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, with fiery clashes that saw police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who shot arrows and lobbed Molotov cocktails.

The university remained under siege yesterday, with dozens of holdouts defying official calls to surrender.

A 30-year-old masked protester who gave his name as "Mike" scoffed at surrendering, saying international and local pressure would cause authorities to make a humiliating "retreat".

He said: "Police are making the wrong calculation here if they think we will surrender. We have plenty of resources, plenty of food and water. We can last a month." - AFP

WORLD