Nov. 28 (UPI) -- China on Thursday condemned the United States for signing a bill into law in support of pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters and vowed to retaliate for the "stark hegemonic acts."
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law that requires the State Department to annually assess whether Hong Kong's level of autonomy from China warrants its special trade status and mandates sanctions be imposed against those responsible for committing human rights abuses against Hong Kong citizens, among other directives.
The bill was introduced following the outbreak of mass pro-democracy protests in June by Hong Kongers against the Chinese government that have continued into their sixth month.
China on Thursday criticized the bill as an attempt by the United States to interfere in its internal affairs, an argument it has repeated since the legislature was first introduced, and accused the United States of distorting facts and supporting "violent criminals."
"The egregious and malicious nature of its intentions is fully revealed," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. "Its very aim is to undermine Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, sabotage the practice of 'one country, two systems,' and disrupt Chinese nation's endeavor to realize the great renewal."
Hong Kong has functioned under the so-called one country, two systems model since it was returned to China from British rule in 1997, which affords it freedoms the mainland does not share.
China said the bill exposes the United States' "malicious and hegemonic" intentions but its attempts to interfere "are bound to fail," vowing to take countermeasures if the United States does not rectify the situation.
"The United States must bear all consequences," it said.
The ministry also summoned U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to issue its "solemn protest" and demand that the bill be retracted.
The Hong Kong And Macao Affairs Office also issued its own statement, accusing the United States of being the biggest "black hand" behind the protests.
"This bill, which has been condemned by the entire Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, is full of prejudice and arrogance," the statement said. "It treats Hong Kong with intimidation and threats, and blatantly provides protection to anti-China Hong Kong elements with insidious intention."
Prominent protest leader Joshua Wong called the bill's passing Thursday a "remarkable achievement."
"The bill signifies fundamental change of U.S.'s China policy and a new stage of the U.S.-H.K. relation," he said via Twitter, adding that he along with other protesters "will continue our efforts in other countries to encourage similar legislative efforts and sanctions mechanism."