HONG KONG — The passage of a Hong Kong-related bill by the U.S. Senate was an interference in China’s internal affairs and encouragement to rioters, said leaders of major political organizations in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Wednesday.

Chan Yung, vice-chairperson of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and a deputy to the National People’s Congress, said that the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 showed a continuation and extension of U.S. hegemony, which could only make rioters increasingly rampant and put the lives and property of more than seven million Hong Kong people under more threat.

“It again shows that those anti-China politicians would only take Hong Kong people as hostages in pursuit of their own political and economic interest,” he said. “Only when we are united to support the HKSAR government, especially law enforcement agencies, can we have peace restored, rioters punished and Hong Kong saved.”

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions issued a statement to “strongly condemn and resolutely oppose” the passing of the act, asking the U.S. to respect policies including the “one country, two systems”, “Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”, and a high degree of autonomy.

It emphasized that Hong Kong is a part of China and after its return in 1997, the “one country, two systems” has been proved a success, which guaranteed people’s lawful rights and freedom.

However, since this June, Hong Kong has witnessed more than 700 demonstrations and public gatherings, many of which ended up in violence. In the past several days, the violence of the black-clad rioters escalated to such level as terrorist acts. Local residents were forced to stay indoors, living in fear.

“The problem faced by Hong Kong now is not that of the so-called ‘human rights and democracy’, but to stop violence and restore order. However, some U.S. politicians choose to turn a blind eye to the atrocities, and still stand by the rioters,” the statement said.

Ng Chau-pei, President of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said it was shameful for the U.S., a self-claimed democratic country ruled by law, to shield violence, fugitives and other unlawful acts with its so-called act.

“Apparently certain politicians in the U.S. only make excuses to interfere in Hong Kong affairs, in a bid to mess up Hong Kong and to thwart China’s development,” he said.

Ip Lau Suk-yee, a member of the HKSAR Legislative Council and chairwoman of the New People’s Party, said that the act was proposed in June against the ordinance amendments concerning fugitives’ transfers, which have already been withdrawn.

“So it’s totally unnecessary,” she said.

She noted that the problem now in Hong Kong is that some rioters infringed on the rights and freedom of the majority, so that ordinary civilians could not live a normal life, even lost their jobs and were attacked because of their different views.

“Those people are rioters, not ‘fighters for democracy and freedom’ as the U.S. side claimed,” she said.

The U.S. Congress only invited Hong Kong anti-government representatives to attend its hearing earlier, “those people could not represent the Hong Kong people at all,” Ip said.

It is extremely unfair to Hong Kong that the U.S. congress hastily passed the act just based on one side of the story, she added.

Chung Kwok-pan, leader of the Liberal Party, believed that the bill was, in part, passed as a bargaining chip for the China-U.S. trade negotiations.

“The U.S. should think about its huge business interest in Hong Kong,” he said.

Hong Kong’s economic achievements proved the success of China’s policies, said Lo Wai-kwok, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong. It is an important trading partner of the U.S. and the act could have a negative effect on the trade relationship between the U.S. and Hong Kong, as well as China at large.

Lo urged the U.S. to stop pushing for legislation of the act, so that both sides could enjoy a mutually beneficial trade environment.