Trump's signing of a Hong Kong human rights bill reportedly slashed efforts towards a China trade deal
- President Donald Trump last week signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill which requires the State Department to ensure that Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" agreement with China is upheld each year for the US government to continue to afford Hong Kong with a special trade status.
- A source close to Trump's negotiating team told Axios that Trump's action "stalled" trade deal talks.
- The source added that the US and China may not sign a "phase-one" trade deal until the "year-end at the earliest."
- China's foreign ministry has condemned the passage of the bill and vowed to protect the country's national security.
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President Donald Trump's signing of a bill supporting human rights in Hong Kong has reportedly angered China's Xi Jinping and stalled trade deal efforts.
A source close to Trump's negotiating team told Axios that the US and China may not sign a "phase-one" trade deal until the "year-end at the earliest." The source attributed the delay to legislation that Trump signed last week called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which protects certain human rights in Hong Kong.
The source told Axios that the trade deal was "stalled" so that time could pass in order to "allow Xi's domestic politics to calm." The source added that Trump would likely delay tariffs planned for December as a goodwill gesture in order to keep the sinking trade deal afloat.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was introduced in May by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, requires the State Department to ensure that Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" agreement with China is upheld each year for the US government to continue to afford Hong Kong with a special trade status.
It would also consider sanctions against people involved in human rights abuses against Hong Kong citizens and would ensure visa protections for Hong Kong protesters in the US.
The president also signed a bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon that prohibits US exports of specified police equipment to Hong Kong.
Trump's reluctant signage of the bills comes after both the House and the Senate passed two versions of the Hong Kong human rights bill last month with overwhelming support.
"I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people Hong Kong," Trump said. "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."
But he added that certain provisions in the bill would "interfere with the exercise of the president's constitutional authority to state the foreign policy of the US."
"My administration will treat each of the provisions of the act consistently with the president's constitutional authorities with respect to foreign relations," he said.
China's foreign ministry has condemned the passage of the bill and vowed to protect the country's national security.
Protests began in Hong Kong in June against legislation that would have allowed for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China, but they have since widened to target Chinese encroachment and police brutality in the semiautonomous region.
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