China has warned the United States of "strong countermeasures" and injury to American interests in the city if the U.S. Congress proceeds with the legislation backing Hong Kong protesters.

According to China news, the move of U.S lawmakers to enact a law linking human rights and trading privileges for the former British colony with support for Hong Kong rebels has increased the wedge between the two largest economies when they are working to clinch a bilateral trade deal.

Chinese Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang said any meddling at this time in Hong Kong by American lawmakers will be unacceptable and they stop such exercises “before falling off the edge of the cliff,” without giving the specifics of the retaliatory measures.

The U.S. House had passed a set of measures Tuesday backing the pro-democracy movement that has been rocking the former British colony for more than 100 days.

A statement from China’s NPC Foreign Affairs Committee said: “We strongly urge the US Congress and some American politicians to halt further deliberation of the bill, and do more to benefit the long-term development and fundamental interests of China and the US.”

Threat of sanctions

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act calls for subjecting the city’s special U.S. trading status to annual scrutiny and placing sanctions on officials responsible for undermining its “fundamental freedoms and autonomy.”

Reacting to China’s warning, representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, the main sponsor of the Hong Kong bill dismissed Beijing’s threats.

“Retaliation, that’s all they ever talk,” Smith told Bloomberg and noted China has been trying to cower people, countries, presidents, prime ministers to get them to back off.

The lawmaker said human rights are elemental and needed protection.

“That is why the students and the young people are out in the streets in Hong Kong.”

The legislation passed by the House will also need the approval of the U.S. Senate and nod of President Donald Trump before becoming a law.

Republican Senators Rick Scott, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley had been to Hong Kong recently and met with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong. They also flayed Hong Kong administrator Carrie Lam for trying to make Hong Kong a “police state.”

China may scuttle the trade deal

Meanwhile, reports said China’s retaliation on the Hong Kong “meddling by the U.S” may turn the trade deal a casualty.

Donald Trump meets with China's Vice Premier Liu He in April 2019
Donald Trump meets with China's Vice Premier Liu He in April 2019 AFP / Jim WATSON

President of China, Xi Jinping is known to be not so happy with the mini trade deal formulated by his deputy. There is a high chance he may rebuff the trade deal citing the Hong Kong snub.

Given the bipartisan support to the Hong Kong issue similar to the Russian sanctions bills, President Trump will be under pressure to sign the Hong Kong bill into law.

According to Trump news, the President may be pushed to sign the bill before the APEC Summit in Chile on November 17 where both Trump and Xi are expected to meet to ratify the first phase of the trade deal.