China stops US warships from visiting Hong Kong

China has barred US warships, above, (Photo credit: US Navy), from visiting Hong Kong and imposed sanctions on some US-based non-profit organisations, agencies said citing a Chinese official.

The move comes days after Washington passed two bills in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.

China’s Foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said on Monday that some pro-democracy and rights groups have been instigating the violent street protests in Hong Kong since June.

Hua did not specify the sanctions on non-profits but warned of tougher actions if the US continues to interfere with China’s internal affairs.

The non-profits facing sanctions include the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House.

Beijing’s “countermeasures” came after the Trump administration passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Nov 27.

The Act requires sanctions on Chinese officials who abuse freedom and human rights in the city.

It also requires the US State Department to periodically certify that Hong Kong’s autonomy is not compromised.

The bills also ban the export of crowd-control weapons such as tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns to Hong Kong’s law enforcement.

The Act came into effect when the US and China were inching towards the so-called phase-one trade agreement.

Trump reluctantly signed the bills into law as he wanted an early breakthrough in the trade talks with China to boost his 2020 presidential campaign.

China is in no hurry to reach a trade deal. At the same time, it wants to avoid an escalation in the ongoing trade war with the US. The symbolic sanctions on non-profits on Monday proves that.

However, China is concerned about the protests in Hong Kong as their focus has shifted to democratic reforms which is unacceptable to Beijing.