China re­tal­i­ates over US bill on HK

Amer­i­can war­ship vis­its sus­pended; rights NGOS also hit

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY AFP

BEI­JING—CHINA sus­pended US war­ship vis­its and sanc­tioned Amer­i­can non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions on Mon­day in re­tal­i­a­tion for the pas­sage of a bill back­ing prodemoc­racy pro­test­ers in Hong Kong. “In re­sponse to the un­rea­son­able be­hav­ior of the US side, [Bei­jing] de­cided to sus­pend re­view­ing the ap­pli­ca­tions for US war­ships to go to Hong Kong for [rest and] re­cu­per­a­tion as of today,” the for­eign min­istry said.

BEI­JING—CHINA sus­pended US war­ship vis­its and sanc­tioned Amer­i­can non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions (NGOS) on Mon­day in re­tal­i­a­tion for the pas­sage of a bill back­ing prodemoc­racy pro­test­ers in Hong Kong.

The fi­nan­cial hub has been rocked by nearly six months of in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent un­rest de­mand­ing greater au­ton­omy, which Bei­jing has fre­quently blamed on for­eign in­flu­ence.

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 fa­vor­able trade sta­tus and threat­ens to re­voke it if the semi­au­tonomous ter­ri­tory’s free­doms are quashed.

The move came as the world’s two big­gest economies have been striv­ing to fi­nal­ize a “phase one” deal in their pro­tracted trade war.

“In re­sponse to the un­rea­son­able be­hav­ior 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 spokesper­son Hua Chun­y­ing said at a reg­u­lar press brief­ing.

China al­ready de­nied re­quests for two US Navy ships to dock in Hong Kong in Au­gust, without spec­i­fy­ing a rea­son 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, she said, in­clud­ing the Na­tional En­dow­ment for Democ­racy, Hu­man Rights Watch and Free­dom House.

There was “al­ready a large amount of facts and ev­i­dence that make it clear that these non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions sup­port anti-china” forces and “in­cite sep­a­ratist ac­tiv­i­ties for Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence,” Hua added.

She ac­cused them of hav­ing “great re­spon­si­bil­ity for the chaotic sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong.”

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.

The in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent ral­lies have ham­mered the re­tail and tourism sec­tors, with main­land Chi­nese vis­i­tors aban­don­ing the city in droves.

The city’s fi­nance chief warned Mon­day that Hong Kong is set to record its first bud­get deficit in 15 years.

—REUTERS

A woman holds a sign dur­ing the “Lest We For­get” rally in Kowloon in Hong Kong on Sun­day.

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