Monday 16 December 2019
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The News - 13 days ago

China slaps sanctions on US over Hong Kong unrest

BEIJING: China suspended US warship visits and sanctioned American NGOs on Monday in retaliation for the passage of a bill backing pro-democracy 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 favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory s freedoms are quashed. The move came as the world s two biggest economies have been striving to finalise a phase one deal in their protracted trade war. In response to the unreasonable behaviour 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 spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing.China had already denied requests for two US Navy ships to dock in Hong Kong in August, without specifying a reason why. Operationally, from a military point of view, it doesn t really make a difference for the US, as they can use many naval bases in the region, Michael Raska, a security researcher at Singapore s Nanyang Technological University, told AFP.However, it sends a signal that US-China tensions will continue to deepen, Raska said. The last US navy ship to visit Hong Kong was the USS Blue Ridge in April. J. Michael Cole, a Taipei-based senior fellow with the Global Taiwan Institute, said the move was mostly symbolic but yet another sign of the tit-for-tat escalation which is poisoning the bilateral relationship.Hua said they would also apply sanctions to a number of US-based NGOs, although failed to give any specifics over the form the measures 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 non-governmental organisations support anti-China forces and incite separatist activities for Hong Kong independence , Hua said. 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.Hong Kong deports Indonesian worker who reported on protests: Hong Kong on Monday deported an Indonesian domestic worker who had reported on the city s ongoing protests, her supporters said, accusing authorities of a politically motivated expulsion. Award-winning writer Yuli Riswati was held for 28 days after failing to extend her visa and was put on a flight to Surabaya on Monday afternoon, a friend told AFP. A statement from a support group for Riswati accused Hong Kong s Immigration Department of suppressing her freedom of speech and her right to help Indonesian workers in Hong Kong .

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