China, in their retaliation to passage of a bill backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, has suspended US warship visits and sanctioned American NGOs.
Hong Kong has been rocked by nearly six months of increasingly violent unrest demanding greater autonomy. Beijing has frequently blamed the unrests on foreign influence.
“In response to the unreasonable behaviour of the US side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for US warships to go to Hong Kong for (rest and) recuperation as of today,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.
China had already denied requests for two US Navy ships to dock in Hong Kong in August, without specifying a reason as to why. Hua said they would also apply sanctions to a number of US-based NGOs, although failed to give any specifics over the form sanctions would take.
“Sanctions will apply to NGOs that had acted badly over the recent unrest in Hong Kong, including the National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House.” Hua said.
“There was already a large amount of facts and evidence that make it clear that these non-governmental organisations support anti-China/forces and incite separatist activities for Hong Kong independence”, Hua added.
Protesters in Hong Kong are pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability, but the city’s pro-Beijing leadership has refused any major political concessions.
Last week, US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires the president to annually review the city’s favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory’s freedoms are quashed.
The increasingly violent rallies have hammered the retail and tourism sectors. Hong Kong’s finance chief warned on Monday that the City is set to record its first budget deficit in 15 years.