Trump’s signature comes as Hong Kong continues to be gripped by turmoil amid widespread discontent over Chinese rule in the special administrative region. Chinese officials had hoped Trump would veto the bill and the president had expressed some concerns about complicating the effort to work out a trade deal with China’s President Xi Jinping.
The human rights 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.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month the act undermines both American and Chinese interests in Hong Kong.
“We urge the U.S. to grasp the situation, stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late, prevent this act from becoming law [and] immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” Geng said at a daily news briefing.