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A leading Chinese government official has complained to the top American diplomat in the Communist country that President Donald Trump is “bullying” Beijing with new measures aimed at punishing the Asian power for crushing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
The complaints to U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad from Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang come as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo predicted that China will “absolutely” pay a price for contributing to the creation and spread of COVID-19.
“I want to warn the U.S. sternly that any bullying and unfairness imposed on China by the U.S. will meet resolute counterattack from China, and the U.S. attempt to obstruct China’s development is doomed to failure,” Zheng said, as quoted by state media.
His threat follows President Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Autonomous Act, which revokes its special trade status after Beijing’s ChiCom government cracked down on the international city’s semi-autonomous status earlier this month in response to ongoing democracy demonstrations.
President Trump signed the legislation Tuesday as a means of pushing back against China’s crackdown on dissent, which it imposed under the guise of national security.
The legislation authorizes new sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials who were responsible for quelling pro-democracy demonstrations. It also ends the international city’s special trade status with the U.S., which means it will now be treated just like mainland China, facing all of the tariffs and other economic measures applied to tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.
In addition, the president said he has no interest in meeting anew with Chinese President Xi Jinping regarding matters of trade because of the way his government mishandled the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Post reported.
“We made a great trade deal, but as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn’t even dry and they hit us with the plague. So right now I’m not interested in talking to China about another deal,” the president told CBS News in an interview on Tuesday.
“I’m interested in doing other things with China,” he added, without elaborating.
In a statement Thursday from the U.S. Embassy, Branstad said that he expressed the United States’ “deep concerns about China’s decisions to erode Hong Kong’s fundamental freedoms and to explain the details” of the president’s Hong Kong actions.
“Hong Kong no longer warrants treatment under United States law in the same manner as United States laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1, 1997,” he said, the date in which the British government formally relinquished the city — London’s last ‘imperial’ outpost — to China.
Pompeo, for his part, told The Hill Wednesday he believes most countries around the world will punish China for working to cover-up the spread of coronavirus.
“I think the world will absolutely make them pay a price,” Pompeo said. “You can see it, every place I go, every foreign minister that I talk to, they recognize what China has done to the world.
“I’m very confident that the world will look at China differently and engage with them on fundamentally different terms than they did before this catastrophic disaster,” he added.
In April, Pompeo said that Beijing “censored those who tried to warn the world, it ordered a halt to testing of new samples, and it destroyed existing samples.”
In May, the former CIA director and U.S. lawmaker accused Chinese officials of destroying coronavirus samples in an attempt to cover-up the disease after a Chinese official confirmed the government had done so.
“Chinese officials repeatedly suppressed the truth about coronavirus. Chinese authorities silenced doctors, whistleblowers and journalists who sought to warn the public about the virus,” The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson at the time.
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