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Trump Signs a Bill That Might Upset China

The president supports pro-democracy activists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2019 6:34 PM CST
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Office workers and pro-democracy protesters hold up their hands to represent their five demands wanted from the government as protests continue in Central district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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(Newser) – President Trump on Wednesday signed two bills aimed at supporting human rights and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, the AP reports. Trump signed the bills, which were approved by near unanimous consent in the House and Senate, even as he expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China’s President Xi Jinping. "I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong," Trump said in a statement. "They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all."

Congress approved the bills last week following months of unrest in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Before Wednesday's signing announcement, Trump would only commit to giving the measures a "hard look." China had threatened to take unspecified, "strong countermeasures" if the bills were signed into law. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong. Another bill prohibits export to Hong Kong police of certain nonlethal munitions, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, water cannons, stun guns, and tasers.

(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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