Asian Markets Mixed; Chinese Stocks Down as Trump Signs Bill Backing HK Protesters

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Asian markets were mixed in morning trade on Thursday. Chinese stocks fell after U.S. President Donald Trump signed two bills backing Hong Kong protesters into law.

“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,” Trump said overnight in a statement released by the White House.

The first bill would require the State Department to review once a year that Hong Kong is autonomous enough to retain its special U.S. trading status. The second measure prohibit the sale of munitions such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police.

The move is likely to complicate trade talks with Beijing, which has repeatedly criticized the U.S. for meddling in its domestic affairs. In a statement released hours after Trump signed the bill, China said the move highlighted the “sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the United States.”

The two nations were reportedly getting close to signing a phase one trade deal. Trump said earlier this week that they were in the “final throes” of the deal.

Hong Kong’s government also released a statement on Thursday morning local time, saying that it “expressed strong opposition” to the bills becoming law and said it “extremely regrets the U.S. repeatedly ignoring Hong Kong’s concern regarding the two bills,”

The signing of the two bills are “unnecessary and without grounds,” the statement said. “They will also harm the relationship and interests between Hong Kong and the U.S.”

Following the news, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3% by 10:35 PM ET (02:35 GMT). The slipped 0.1%. The Hang Seng Index also inched down 0.1%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was little changed after data showed the country’s plunged 14.4% in October from a month earlier, which was more than the expected 10.4% decline.

South Korea’s KOSPI lost 0.2%.

Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 climbed 0.2%.

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