China sus­pends US Navy vis­its to Hong Kong over protest sup­port

● Move is in re­ply to ‘Amer­ica’s un­rea­son­able be­hav­iour’

The Scotsman - - WORLD NEWS - By KEN MORITSUGU

is to sus­pend US mil­i­tary ship and air­craft vis­its to Hong Kong in re­tal­i­a­tion for the sign­ing into law of leg­is­la­tion sup­port­ing anti-govern­ment protests.

While the na­ture of the sanctions re­mained un­clear, the move fol­lowed Chi­nese warn­ings that the US would bear the costs if the Hong Kong Hu­man Rights and Democ­racy Act was ap­proved.

The steps are “in re­sponse to Amer­ica’s un­rea­son­able be­hav­iour,” for­eign min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said in Beijing, adding that the leg­is­la­tion se­ri­ously in­ter­fered in China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

The law, signed last Wed­nes­day by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, man­dates sanctions on Chi­nese and Hong Kong of­fi­cials who carry out hu­man rights abuses and re­quires an an­nual re­view of the favourable trade sta­tus that Wash­ing­ton grants Hong Kong.

The leg­is­la­tion was backed by US politi­cians who are sym­pa­thetic to the pro­test­ers and have crit­i­cised Hong Kong po­lice for crack­ing down on the pro-democ­racy move­ment.

Po­lice say their use of tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets and other force is a nec­es­sary re­sponse to es­ca­lat­ing vi­o­lence by the pro­test­ers, who have blocked ma­jor roads and thrown petrol bombs back at of­fi­cers in riot gear.

Hong Kong has been liv­ing with almost non­stop protests for six months. The move­ment’s de­mands in­clude demo­cratic elec­tions and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the po­lice re­sponse. More fun­da­men­tally, the pro­test­ers and oth­ers in Hong Kong fear that China is erod­ing the rights and free­doms they have un­der a “one coun­try, two sys­tems” frame­work.

Hua said China would sanc­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing the Na­tional En­dow­ment for Democ­racy, the Na­tion china al Demo­cratic In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, Hu­man Rights Watch, the In­ter­na­tional Repub­li­can In­sti­tute, Free­dom House and oth­ers that she said had “per­formed badly” in the Hong Kong un­rest.

“China urges the United States to cor­rect its mis­takes and stop any words and deeds that in­ter­fere in Hong Kong and China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs,” she said, adding that China could take “fur­ther nec­es­sary ac­tions” de­pend­ing on how mat­ters de­velop.

Hua ac­cused the groups of in­sti­gat­ing pro­test­ers to en­gage in “rad­i­cal vi­o­lent crimes and in­cit­ing sep­a­ratist ac­tiv­i­ties.”

“These or­ga­ni­za­tions de­serve to be sanc­tioned and must pay a price,” Hua said.

In Hong Kong, sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple who work in ad­ver­tis­ing started a five­day strike Mon­day to show sup­port for the anti-govern­ment protests. They said they would not go to work, re­spond to work emails or take part in con­fer­ence calls.

Some held up signs with protest slo­gans at an early af­ter­noon rally to launch the strike in Chater Gar­den, a public square in the cen­tral busi­ness district.

Antony Yiu, an en­tre­pre­neur in ad­ver­tis­ing and one of the or­ga­niz­ers, said they want other busi­ness sec­tors to join them.

“The govern­ment seems to be still ig­nor­ing the sound of the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple,” he said. The ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try wants “to take the first step to en­cour­age other busi­nesses to par­tic­i­pate in the strike to give more pres­sure.”

More than 10,000 peo­ple marched on Sun­day to try to pres­sure the govern­ment to ad­dress the de­mands af­ter pro-democ­racy can­di­dates won a land­slide vic­tory in district coun­cil elec­tions one week ear­lier.

Hong Kong leader Car­rie Lam has said she will ac­cel­er­ate di­a­logue but has not of­fered any con­ces­sions since the elec­tions.

The protests are blamed for driv­ing the econ­omy into re­ces­sion. Tourism, air­line and re­tail sec­tors have been hit par­tic­u­larly hard.

PIC­TURE: AP

0 Po­lice say their use of tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets and other force is a nec­es­sary re­sponse to es­ca­lat­ing vi­o­lence by the pro­test­ers

↑ Hua Chun­y­ing says leg­is­la­tion in­ter­feres with in­ter­nal af­fairs

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