China bans U.S. war­ships from Hong Kong in hu­man rights row

Toronto Star - - WORLD -

BEIJING— China said Mon­day that it would sus­pend vis­its to Hong Kong by U.S. war­ships and impose sanctions on sev­eral U.S.-based non-gov­ern­men­tal groups, in a mostly sym­bolic re­tal­i­a­tion for tough hu­man rights leg­is­la­tion that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed last week.

Hua Chun­y­ing, a spokes­woman for the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry, said the mea­sures were a re­sponse to the “un­rea­son­able be­hav­iour” on the part of the United States. She de­nounced the new hu­man rights leg­is­la­tion as il­le­gal in­ter­fer­ence into its do­mes­tic af­fairs.

In her re­marks, Hua also ac­cused sev­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Na­tional En­dow­ment for Democ­racy, Hu­man Rights Watch and Free­dom House, of in­sti­gat­ing vi­o­lence dur­ing the antigov­ern­ment protests that have con­vulsed Hong Kong since June. It is un­clear what form any Chi­nese sanctions on these groups would take.

With­out cit­ing ev­i­dence, Hua said these groups sup­ported “anti-China forces in cre­at­ing chaos in Hong Kong, and en­cour­aged them to en­gage in ex­treme vi­o­lent crim­i­nal acts.”

“They have a large re­spon­si­bil­ity for the chaos in Hong Kong, and de­serve to be sanc­tioned and pay the price.”

China has re­sponded to the new leg­is­la­tion with strong rhetoric, but the mea­sures an­nounced Mon­day sug­gested that Beijing was un­will­ing to let the dis­pute spill over into its trade ne­go­ti­a­tions with the United States.

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