China puts Hong Kong port calls by US military on hold after Donald Trump signs democracy act
China has suspended visits to Hong Kong by US military vessels and aircraft and sanctioned various US-based non-government organisations, a week after US President Donald Trump signed a law increasing scrutiny of the city.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing would suspend its reviews of requests made by US military aircraft and vessels after Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which allows Washington to impose sanctions on officials deemed to have violated human rights in Hong Kong.
Hua also said China had sanctioned NGOs such as Human Rights Watch for supporting violent activities in Hong Kong.
Other NGOs targeted include the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House.
“There is a lot of evidence proving that these NGOs have supported anti-China forces to create chaos in Hong Kong, and encouraged them to engage in extreme violent criminal acts and ‘Hong Kong independence’ separatist activities,” she said.
“They have a large responsibility for the chaos in Hong Kong, and deserve to be sanctioned and pay the price.”
China called on the United States to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, and Beijing could take further action to protect its national sovereignty and security, Hua said.
Beijing said last week that it would take strong countermeasures against Washington , and accused the US of interfering in Hong Kong.
Trump also signed the Protect Hong Kong Act into law, prohibiting the sale of US-made munitions such as tear gas and rubber bullets to the city’s authorities.
“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said. “They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”
The moves come as China and the US try to negotiate a “phase one” trade deal, with China insisting that US tariffs be rolled back as part of the agreement, according to Chinese state media.
A new batch of US tariffs on Chinese imports is due to go into effect on December 15, putting an extra 15 per cent duty on US$156 billion worth of Chinese goods. China has said it will impose another round of tariffs on US$75 billion worth of US goods – including soybeans – on December 15, in line with the US schedule.
In August, China rejected requests for Hong Kong port visits by the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie as US lawmakers criticised the Hong Kong police force’s handling of the protests. At that time, the foreign ministry said China approved port visits by US warships on a case-by-case basis.
In September last year, Beijing also refused a port call by the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp just days after Washington sanctioned the Chinese military over arms purchases from Russia.
Nevertheless, defence chiefs from both countries have pledged to make military ties the “stabiliser” of China-US relations.