Hey, Sailor: Beijing halts US Navy visits, vows to sanction NGOs over Hong Kong ‘meddling’

Beijing has said it will be suspending visits from U.S. warships in light of the recent passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo via the U.S. Navy.
Beijing has said it will be suspending visits from U.S. warships in light of the recent passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo via the U.S. Navy.

In yet another hit for Hong Kong’s already-beleaguered drinking establishments, Beijing today said it would not be entertaining requests for visits to Hong Kong from U.S. warships in apparent retaliation for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (HKHRDA) last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week signed into law the HKHRDA, which requires the U.S. to annually reassess whether Hong Kong remains sufficiently autonomous from China to justify its special trade status. The development prompted renewed accusations from Beijing that its rival was meddling in its internal affairs, as well as warnings that it would be taking “firm counter measures” in light of the law’s passage.

Those measures appeared to arrive today in the form of a suspension of U.S. Navy shore visits, AFP reports, as well as sanctions on some U.S.-based NGOs, including the National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House.

“In response to the unreasonable behavior of the U.S. side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for U.S. warships to go to Hong Kong,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

She went on to say that there was “a large amount of facts and evidence that make it clear that these non-governmental organizations support anti-China” forces — albeit without offering said evidence. Hua didn’t specify what form the sanctions would take.

The claims of foreign interference are nothing new for China, which has long sought to paint Hong Kong’s protest movement — which has, at times, drawn millions of Hongkongers onto the streets — as the work of outside agitators.

This isn’t the first time Beijing has sunk U.S. plans for shore visits to Hong Kong since protests broke out. A pair of planned visits were similarly scrapped in August over accusations of U.S. meddling.

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