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Trump Signs Bill, Order Rebuking China 07/15 06:54

   President Donald Trump signed legislation and an executive order on Tuesday 
that he said will hold China accountable for its oppressive actions against the 
people of Hong Kong, then quickly shifted his policy speech into a political 
one, hurling broadsides against Democratic rival Joe Biden.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump signed legislation and an 
executive order on Tuesday that he said will hold China accountable for its 
oppressive actions against the people of Hong Kong, then quickly shifted his 
policy speech into a political one, hurling broadsides against Democratic rival 
Joe Biden.

   The legislation and order are part of the Trump administration's stepped-up 
offensive against China for what he calls the rising Asian superpower's 
exploitation of America and its effort to conceal details about the 
human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus from the world. The almost daily 
administration attacks on Beijing come as Trump defends his own response to the 
virus, with cases surging in parts of the United States, and as he works ahead 
of the election to portray Biden as soft on China.

   "So Joe Biden and President Obama freely allowed China to pillage our 
factories, plunder our communities and steal our most precious secrets," Trump 
said, adding, "I've stopped it largely."

   Trump said that as vice president, Biden advocated for the Paris Agreement 
addressing climate change; Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord. "It would 
have crushed American manufacturers while allowing China to pollute the 
atmosphere with impunity, yet one more gift from Biden to the Chinese Communist 
Party," Trump said.

   Trump talked up his own tough approach to Beijing, though he spent the early 
weeks of the pandemic praising Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two nations 
signed phase one of a trade deal, but since then, relations have soured and 
Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden that he has no interest in talking to 
Xi.

   The legislation Trump signed into law targets police units that have cracked 
down on Hong Kong protesters as well as Chinese Communist Party officials 
responsible for imposing a new, strict national security law widely seen as 
chipping away at Hong Kong's autonomy. The mandatory sanctions are also 
required to be imposed on banks that conduct business with the officials.

   While he signed the bill into law, Trump issued a statement saying the 
administration would not view as binding certain sections of the law that the 
White House believes limit a president's powers to conduct foreign policy.

   Lawmakers from both parties have urged Trump to take strong action in 
response to China's new national security law that erodes the "one country, two 
systems" framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. 
Hong Kong is considered a special administrative region within China and has 
its own governing and economic systems.

   "This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the 
individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong's freedom," 
Trump said. "Their freedom has been taken away. Their rights have been taken 
away, and with it goes Hong Kong in my opinion because it will no longer be 
able to compete with free markets. A lot of people will be leaving Hong Kong, I 
suspect."

   The executive order he signed did not appear to go beyond his 
administration's previous determinations that Hong Kong is no longer eligible 
for preferential treatment from the United States. Trump said the order strikes 
those privileges but, in fact, the administration already has been in the 
process of eliminating them for nearly two months.

   China called the legislation gross interference in its internal affairs and 
warned it would respond by imposing sanctions on related American individuals 
and entities.

   "The American side's attempts to obstruct the implementation of Hong Kong's 
national security law will never succeed," the foreign ministry said in a 
statement.

   It said the law would ensure the long-term stability and prosperity of the 
semi-autonomous territory.

   Secretary of State Mike Pompeo first made the determination in late May that 
China's decision to impose a new national security law in Hong Kong meant the 
former British territory was no longer a democracy and so was no longer 
eligible for trade, commercial and other U.S. perks it had enjoyed. Just three 
days later, when Trump announced the U.S. was withdrawing from the World Health 
Organization because of Chinese influence, he echoed Pompeo's determination and 
instructed his administration to immediately begin eliminating the preferences, 
which it did.

   In late June, the administration barred Hong Kong from importing U.S. 
weapons, saying its purchase of items that have both civilian and military 
applications would be subject to the same licensing requirements as mainland 
China. Other actions in the works include suspending an extradition treaty with 
Hong Kong, something Australia has already done, as well as ending legal 
cooperation agreements, taxation accords and financial understandings that 
cover accounting rules for Chinese businesses that work in the U.S.

   At the same time, the administration has pressed ahead with travel bans for 
Chinese, Hong Kong and communist party officials the U.S. believes are 
responsible for curtailing democracy in Hong Kong.

   The administration also also gone after China by imposing travel bans on 
officials for repressing minorities in western China and hindering foreigners' 
access to Tibet. On Monday, Pompeo announced that the U.S. had decided to 
reject outright virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea, a 
determination that could lead to increased tensions in disputed, critical 
international shipping lanes.

 
 
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