BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- China summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on Friday to lodge a formal complaint about U.S. comments on Hong Kong, after proposed U.S. legislation that would require the government to justify the continuation of special treatment for the territory.
The bipartisan Senate legislation, sponsored by several senior senators, would require the U.S. secretary of state to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special treatment under the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
The planned legislation comes amid a political crisis in the former British colony, where protests have boiled over against a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister summoned Robert Forden, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Beijing, to lodge stern representations over recent U.S. comments and actions on Hong Kong and the extradition law and urged Washington to stop interfering in the city’s affairs immediately.
Le urged Washington not to not take any actions that harm Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, the ministry said in a statement.
"We urge the U.S. side to treat the Hong Kong government objectively and fairly and respect its normal legislative process,” the statement cited Le as saying.
"China will watch the U.S. side’s actions and further respond,” he added, without elaborating.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "one country, two systems” deal.
Earlier on Friday, the foreign ministry expressed "extreme dissatisfaction” with the proposed U.S. bill, calling it "irresponsible carping and crude interference”.
China called on the United States "to give up its delusions of creating chaos in Hong Kong, stop pushing the proposed bill and to stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs,” spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular media briefing.
Scuffles broke out between demonstrators and police in Hong Kong on Thursday as hundreds of people persevered with a protest against the extradition law a day after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up big crowds.
Wednesday’s protests around the city’s legislature forced the postponement of debate on the bill, which many in Hong Kong fear will undermine freedoms and confidence in the commercial hub.