China yesterday accused the United States of seeking to “destroy” Hong Kong and threatened retaliation after Congress passed new legislation supporting the pro-democracy movement that has thrown the city into nearly six months of turmoil.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act “indulges violent criminals” that China blames for the worsening unrest and aims to “muddle or even destroy Hong Kong”.
The legislation -- which now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature into law -- backs universal suffrage, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and sanctions against those who contravene such principles.
It was passed by the House of Representatives on Wednesday despite warnings from China, which angrily rejects criticism of its handling of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s months of protest began with a now-shelved bill to allow extraditions to mainland China, which revived fears that Beijing was slicing into the city’s freedoms.
Millions of angry citizens have taken to the streets in giant marches, and protesters have repeatedly clashed with police in a movement that has widened to include calls for democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.
Hong Kong’s Beijing-appointed leaders have rebuffed the demands.
The resistance has focused in recent days on the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, with fiery clashes that saw police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who shot arrows and lobbed Molotov cocktails.
The university remained under siege yesterday, with dozens of holdouts in the movement’s signature black colours defying official calls to surrender.
Hundreds have fled the campus out of fear or deteriorating living conditions this week, most of them quickly arrested by police on rioting allegations.
Exhausted protesters draped in gold and silver medical blankets continued to trickle out yesterday.
But a 30-year-old masked protester who gave his name as “Mike” scoffed at surrendering, saying international and local pressure would cause authorities to make a humiliating “retreat”.
“Please try! You’re welcome (to storm the campus),” he told AFP, in a message to police.