Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, both flew to Hong Kong in October, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has met with activists in Washington.
“We have sent a message to President Xi: Your suppression of freedom, whether in Hong Kong, in northwest China or anywhere else, will not stand,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said last month. “You cannot be a great leader and you cannot be a great country when you oppose freedom, when you are so brutal to the people of Hong Kong, young and old, who are protesting.”
While there was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government to Mr. Trump’s signing of the bill, Beijing had previously made clear its strong hostility to the measure.
On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry summoned the American ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad, to criticize the bill. According to the ministry, Zheng Zeguang, a vice foreign minister, demanded that the United States “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Although Mr. Trump announced last month that the United States and China had reached a “historic” Phase 1 trade agreement, signing a deal has proved elusive. Both the United States and China have tried to keep the Hong Kong issue separate from their bilateral trade talks. The Commerce Ministry issued a statement this week that talks were going well on a partial resolution of the issues.
Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, said the injection of Hong Kong into the trade process could derail the talks with China, which is notoriously sensitive about outside political interference.
“The legislation will further fuel the narrative in Chinese domestic policy circles that the U.S. is attempting to infringe on the sovereignty of China in terms of its internal economic and political affairs,” Mr. Prasad said.
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