China has warned the US it could take “firm counter-measures” if Washington continues to show support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The warning came after US President Donald Trump signed the Human Rights and Democracy Act into law.
The act mandates an annual review, to check if Hong Kong has enough autonomy to justify special status with the US.
Image caption: A Hong Kong protester shows his appreciation of the US move, Image copyright REUTERS
Mr Trump is currently seeking a deal with China, in order to end a trade war between the two countries.
“The US has been disregarding facts and distorting truth,” a Chinese foreign ministry statement said.
“It openly backed violent criminals who rampantly smashed facilities, set fire, assaulted innocent civilians, trampled on the rule of law, and jeopardised social order.”
The ministry threatened “counter measures” if the US continued “going down the wrong path”.
What are the implications of the bill?
The new law requires Washington to monitor Beijing’s actions in Hong Kong. The US could revoke the special trading status it has granted the territory if China undermines the city’s rights and freedoms.
Among other things, Hong Kong’s special status means it is not effected by US sanctions or tariffs placed on the mainland.
The bill also says the US should allow Hong Kong residents to obtain US visas if they have been arrested for being part of non-violent protests.
Analysts say the move could complicate negotiations between China and America to end their trade war.