The Hong Kong government on Friday hit back at the United States after the passage of legislation in the US that would impose mandatory sanctions on individuals or companies that back central government efforts to restrict Hong Kong's autonomy, as Beijing moves to implement a new security law for the SAR.
The "Hong Kong Autonomy Act" passed by unanimous consent. To become law, it must also pass the House of Representatives and be signed into law by President Trump.
A government spokesman said in a statement that the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and sanctions were "totally unacceptable and will only harm the relations and common interests between Hong Kong and the US".
The spokesman called for restraint in the implementation of the law, adding that any sanctions imposed under the Act "will not create an obligation for financial institutions under Hong Kong law".
"We however urge the US side to act responsibly by refraining from taking measures that may potentially affect the normal operations of financial institutions and the vast number of customers they serve," he said.
The spokesman said many of the comments in the US legislation were "seriously misleading and absolutely unfounded", and rejected accusations that some prosecutions of protesters were politically motivated, saying prosecutors did their duty independently and professionally.
He said human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong were "fully protected by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation, and underpinned by an independent judiciary".
"We urge the US Congress to immediately stop interfering in HKSAR's internal matters," the spokesman said. "The Act and the so-called 'sanctions' are totally unacceptable and will only harm the relations and common interests between Hong Kong and the US."
The spokesman added that implementation of the 'one country, two systems' principle in the SAR "is entirely the internal affairs of the PRC".
"No other state or legislature has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, in those internal affairs," he said.
Sino-US relations have reached their lowest point in years since the coronavirus
pandemic, which began in China, hit the United States hard.