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Trump delights Hong Kong demonstrators, enrages Beijing

A pro-democracy protester sticks a poster featuring President Trump on a pillar in the Hong Kong financial district today
A pro-democracy protester sticks a poster featuring President Trump on a pillar in the Hong Kong financial district today. Photo: Kin Cheung/AP

President Trump thrilled China hardliners in the U.S. yesterday by signing two bills backing human rights in Hong Kong, provoking a threat of "firm counter measures" from Beijing.

Why it matters: Trump signed the bills knowing they would complicate trade negotiations. That suggests that he thinks he has a winning hand, based partly on weak economic data from China and stronger signs in the U.S.

  • The bills had been approved nearly unanimously in the House and Senate, but it was unclear if Trump would sign them.
  • The expected signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) helps provide political cover.

Between the lines: Trump chose not to take the easy way and let the legislation go into law by default on Tuesday.

  • China had threatened retaliation for weeks, so this was seen as thumbing his nose at Xi.

The latest: China reacted furiously, summoning the U.S. ambassador to protest, and warning the move would undermine cooperation with Washington. (AP)

  • Protesters in Hong Kong staged a "Thanksgiving" rally, "with thousands of people, some draped in U.S. flags, gathering in the heart of the city." (Reuters)

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