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Trump signing the Hong Kong rights bill could hurt US-China relations



Anti-government protesters with face covered stand at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, taken over by anti-government protesters, on November 21, 2019 in Hong Kong, China.

Laurel Chor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

US-China relations will deteriorate if President Donald Trump signs a pro-Hong Kong rights law, a former US ambassador to China said Thursday.

"I don't think this bill is going to help protesters achieve their goals. Secondly, it has an impact on US-China relations. I think this is going to worsen the relationship," said Max Baucus, who was named Ambassador to President Barack Obama.

It will also lead to more uncertainty about a potential trade deal, added Baucus, who is also a former Montana Democratic senator.

Baucus' comments came after the House passed a pro-Hong Kong rights law on Wednesday, putting Trump in a bind while trying not to shower high stakes trade talks with China.

The Chamber approved a measure aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong by a margin of 41

7-1 amid an attempt to crack down on months of protests against the government. The House adopted new law insurance to prevent the export of certain ammunition to Hong Kong police by the same margin.

The Senate unanimously approved both laws, so they head to Trump's desk after the House passage. And Trump is likely to sign the bill, Baucus told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"It sounds good to American politicians. It sounds good to President Trump. (There is one) fantastic top line view of it: human rights standards," Baucus said.

"It is very difficult in the current political climate in Washington DC, which has close hysterical reactions to China not to sign the human rights proposal," he added.

The bills come at a difficult time for Trump, who hopes to get a China-based trade victory on the campaign trail by 2020. Major US stock indices fell on Wednesday following a Reuters report that the world's two largest economies may not complete a "phase one" trade agreement this year.

A former US diplomat to Beijing told CNBC on Wednesday, but expected a "phase" an "agreement to get done.

" If it is a phase that an agreement is about, it will almost certainly be a agreement largely on Beijing's terms; something Beijing wants – purchases and promises, not a deal count on the structural process, "said Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center & # 39; s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States." China will want that deal, even though it felt offended Hong Kong. "

But Baucus said China may rethink the deal as well.

" Now that President Trump is undergoing a preliminary, if you will, inquiry negotiation, that's why the Chinese are backing up; they are not sure what kind of agreement they will sign with President Trump, "Baucus said.

– CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report. [19659017]
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