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Strained Relations

In a move sure to further strain relations, Trump Signs Bill in Support of Hong Kong Protesters.

The legislation, S. 1838, requires annual reviews of Hong Kong’s special trade status under American law -- and sanctions against any officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses or undermining the city’s autonomy.

The House cleared the bill 417-1 on Nov. 20 after the Senate passed it without opposition, veto-proof majorities that left Trump with little choice but to acquiesce.

While many members of Congress in both parties have voiced strong support for protesters demanding more autonomy for the city, Trump has stayed largely silent, even as the demonstrations have been met by rising police violence.

“If the U.S. insists on going down this wrong path, China will take strong countermeasures,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a briefing Thursday in Beijing. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned the U.S. ambassador, Terry Branstad, on Monday to express “strong opposition” to what the country’s government considers American interference in the protests, including the legislation, according to statement.

The new U.S. law comes just as Washington and Beijing have shown signs of working toward what the White House calls a “phase-one” deal to ease the trade war. Trump would like the agreement finished in order to ease economic uncertainty for his re-election campaign in 2020, and has floated the possibility of signing the deal in a farm state as an acknowledgment of the constituency that’s borne the brunt of retaliatory Chinese tariffs.

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Veto-Proof Majorities

Veto-proof majorities in both houses left Trump no choice.

Retaliation?

China has not announced what it will do.

And the bill demands sanctions if China cracks down on the protesters.

But I suspect both Trump and China will try to sweep this dispute under the rug to get a trade deal passed. But nothing here would surprise me.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock