Beijing has slammed a US and British gambit to use a UN meeting to condem China over its planned security law for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump threatened to end the territory's special status.
Washington and London on Friday urged China to reverse course over its new security law in Hong Kong, prompting outrage on the part of Beijing at having the controversy discussed before the world.
Both the US and Britain said that Hong Kong's autonomy, guaranteed by Beijing in a UN-registered agreement, was of "legitimate international concern."
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Many Hong Kongers say the new law will end the freedom they currently enjoy under the "one country, two systems" formulated during negotiations with the UK over the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China.
"The United States is resolute, and calls upon all UN members states to join us in demanding that the PRC [People's Republic of China] immediately reverse course and honor its international legal commitments to this institution and to the Hong Kong people," said US Ambassador Kelly Craft.
UK envoy Jonathan Allen said he hoped Beijing would "pause and reflect on the serious and legitimate concerns this proposal has raised both within Hong Kong and around the world."
British and American delegates raised the issue in an informal, closed-door videoconference where China cannot block the agenda. China is one of five powers to wield a veto at the Security Council, making any formal session, let alone action, impossible on Hong Kong, a former British colony.
China denounced the move as "interference," saying that the Hong Kong law did not fall under the mandate of the Security Council, which was to maintain international security and peace.
China's ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, demanded that the US and Britain "immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs."
He also said China would not allow the US to "kidnap" the Security Council "for its own purposes."
"We urge the US to immediately stop this senseless political manipulation," Zhao said.
"There was no consensus, no formal discussion in the Security Council, and the US and the UK's move came to nothing," said a statement from China's UN mission.
'Opening a Pandora's Box'
Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, described the discussion of domestic affairs before the Security Council as "like opening a Pandora box," adding that this could backfire on the US.
The law would ban subversion and other perceived offenses against Chinese rule in Hong Kong, which was rocked by months of massive pro-democracy protests last year.
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President Donald Trump said Friday that, if the law were imposed, the US would restrict Chinese students and start reversing Hong Kong's special status in customs and other areas.
Trump said the government in Beijing has been "diminishing the city's longstanding and very proud status."
"We will take action to revoke Hong Kong's preferential treatment," he said, adding that the US would also impose sanctions on individuals who were identified as responsible for smothering Hong Kong's autonomy.