Chinese President Xi Jinping praises Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam amid widespread pro-democracy demonstrations, which have been ongoing for months now.
President Xi made those remarks while speaking to the media on Monday saying, “The central government fully recognizes the courage and assumption of responsibility you have displayed in these exceptional times in Hong Kong.”
The president continued by emphasizing the Chinese government’s support of Hong Kong authorities, which have been accused of exercising brutality against the demonstrators for months.
Xi’s remarks come as rumors have circulated suggesting Lam might be ousted, despite his reiterated support for her during the widespread civil unrest.
This comes shortly after President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, ultimately supporting the push for democracy in the semi-autonomous region.
The new law mandates a special review annually to evaluate the special trading status Hong Kong currently has under American law.
The president weighed in on his decision to sign the legislation saying, “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”
The law provides justification for sanctions targeting anyone who seeks to undermine the widespread pro-democracy demonstrations.
The legislation also prohibits the United States from exporting tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and other materials to Hong Kong.
The Chinese have since announced retaliation for the move, saying it will no longer allow U.S. military ships and aircraft to visit the area.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson weighed in on the move saying, “We urge the U.S. to correct the mistakes and stop interfering in our internal affairs. China will take further steps if necessary to uphold Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity and China’s sovereignty.”
The official reportedly continued by saying it would sanction various American-based NGO’s while suggesting the United States has “some [degree of] responsibility for the chaos in Hong Kong.”
Some of those organizations include Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Protests first erupted months ago in Hong Kong over an extradition bill, which has since been taken off the table but spurred widespread calls for democratic reform.
The bill worried protestors those subject to extradition would face unfair trials and even torture in China if it passed.
Since then, demonstrators have called for probes into alleged police brutality and have even called for their leader Carrie Lam to resign.
Despite the extradition bill being withdrawn, violent clashes between protestors and police forces continue.