President Trump promises ‘very interesting & powerful’ action after China calls US sanctions ‘bluff’ over Hong Kong

US President Donald Trump said he was planning to do something about Beijing’s moves to limit the political autonomy of Hong Kong, but would not say what. Chinese media, meanwhile, called US threats a ‘nothingburger’ bluff.

“We're doing something now. I think you'll find it very interesting. But I won't be talking about it today,” Trump told reporters at a White House event about healthcare on Tuesday. “It's something you're going to be hearing about ... before the end of the week – very powerfully I think.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier that Trump was “displeased” about China’s actions concerning Hong Kong, but likewise would not elaborate what specific action that might translate into.

Trump’s cryptic comments come as China is attempting to outlaw “any act of treason, secession, sedition [or] subversion against the Central People's Government” in the city that was ruled by the British Empire for a century, before being ceded back to China in 1997.

While official Beijing has not commented directly, a Monday editorial by Global Times – an English-language outlet of the ruling party’s People’s Daily newspaper – dismissed the prospect of US sanctions as a “nothingburger” and a bluff.

“Washington has always used national security as an excuse to suppress normal commercial activities,” said the editorial, adding that Trump’s claims about Hong Kong “will hardly fool all Westerners, let alone manipulate the whole international community.”

“As the US is entangled in the [Covid-19] epidemic, its actual ability to intervene externally is weakening. The White House claimed it would impose sanctions on China, but the tools and resources at its disposal are fewer than those it could mobilize before the outbreak. It is only bluffing,” the editorial concluded.

Trump campaigned on labeling China a currency manipulator and renegotiating its trade relationship with the US. He kicked off a tariff war shortly following his inauguration that only ended in March with a tentative trade pact with Beijing. By that time, however, Trump was accusing China of misinformation about the novel coronavirus, whose first outbreak was registered in the city of Wuhan last December.

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