The Chinese have a big problem with Hong Kong and its ongoing democracy movement, and they’ve decided that certain elements from the United States are to blame. So on Monday, they announced that U.S. military ships and aircraft won’t be allowed to visit Hong Kong, and also announced sanctions against several U.S. non-government organizations (NGOs) for encouraging protesters to “engage in extremist, violent and criminal acts.”
China’s pushback against the U.S. follows the move by the Trump administration to support democracy in Hong Kong by signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. This move, seen as a provocation by the Chinese, allows the U.S. to sanction individuals who violated human rights in Hong Kong. President Trump said that the law sailed through Congress with nearly unanimous bipartisan support.
That move had the Chinese Foreign Ministry accusing the U.S. of “bullying behavior” as well as for “publicly supporting violent criminals.” So, the Chinese move on Monday didn’t come as a surprise.
Beijing response was seen as moderate, as it didn’t want to take action against the United States that would upset the ongoing talks to end the trade war between the two countries.
“We urge the U.S. to correct the mistakes and stop interfering in our internal affairs. China will take further steps if necessary to uphold Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity and China’s sovereignty,” said ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying in Beijing.
The NGOs targeted by Beijing include the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House.
“They shoulder some responsibility for the chaos in Hong Kong and they should be sanctioned and pay the price. 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.” said Hua Chunying.
It isn’t known yet how China intends to sanction these NGOs or how would the effect of the sanctions be felt by them.
The USS Blue Ridge, the command ship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet that is based in Japan, was the last U.S. warship to make a port of call in Hong Kong, along with the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, in April.
Both the U.S. and China are engaging in dangerous behavior in the South China Sea, with the two sides’ warships coming very close to one another. Last week, U.S. warships sailed within 12 miles of islands that are claimed by China.
Those actions “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea,” Cmdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s 7th Fleet, said in a statement.
Calling it highly provocative behavior, the Chinese issued a statement, blasting the U.S.’s move in the area. “The trespassing hurts regional peace and stability, harms China’s sovereignty and security, and endangers the lives of frontline officers and soldiers of both sides,” Ren Guoqiang, spokesman for Beijing’s Defense Ministry said.