The bill Trump signed, which unanimously passed Congress last week, imposes sanctions on China over its ongoing crackdown on Hong Kong, where officials have imposed a sweeping national security law that allows Beijing to target political opponents in the once-autonomous city. Under the new standard, Hong Kongers who are deemed guilty of “subversion” face a possible life sentence in prison — the same as political dissidents in mainland China.
Human rights advocates and lawmakers in both parties have denounced China’s actions toward Hong Kong.
Trump also issued an executive order ending the United States’ longtime preferential treatment of Hong Kong, saying it would now be treated the same as mainland China with regard to economic and other issues.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry condemned the latest U.S. moves. “To safeguard its legitimate interests, China will deliver the required responses, including imposing sanctions on relevant U.S. personnel and entities,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Earlier, the president spoke briefly about the measures on Hong Kong before turning his attention to Biden and what Trump describes as the former vice president’s soft stance on China as Democrats blame Trump for not being tougher with China when the coronavirus first showed up there out of fear it would blow up his trade deal.
“Joe Biden’s entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party and to the calamity of errors that they’ve made,” Trump said, later claiming that “Biden expressed more fawning praise about China on an ordinary day than about America.”
He also used the official White House podium to attack Biden’s son, Hunter, over a lucrative job he had in China, which the president has long suggested without evidence was corrupt.
In the months since the coronavirus ravaged the United States, Trump has blamed China for its spread, reiterating Tuesday, “We hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world.” He again heralded his own limited travel ban from China earlier in the year and slammed Biden for not supporting it, claiming that “thousands more people would have died” if Trump hadn’t taken that step.
More than 130,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus infection.
Trump quickly segued to broader attacks on Biden’s candidacy and Democratic policies unrelated to China, from infrastructure to immigration to climate to federal monument vandalism, saying, “Biden has gone radical left.”
He baselessly accused Biden of wanting to “abolish law enforcement as we know it” and “defund the military.”
“There’s never been a time when two candidates were so different,” Trump said.
Anna Fifield in Beijing contributed to this article.