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China Retaliates After US Legislation Supports Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Movement

A protester wearing a mask depicting U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a "March of Gratitude to the US" event near the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, China December 1, 2019.

A trade deal between the U.S. and China has stalled because of newly signed U.S. bipartisan legislation supporting pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, according to the news website Axios.

The news site quotes a source close to U.S. President Donald Trump's negotiating team as saying the trade talks were "now stalled" because of the legislation, and time was needed to allow Chinese President Xi Jinping's "domestic politics to calm."

China is also taking other steps to retaliate against what it sees as U.S. support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Monday it is slapping sanctions on U.S.-based non-governmental organizations that have acted "badly" during the recent protests in Hong Kong. NGOs affected by the sanctions include Human Rights Watch, the National Endowment for Democracy, and Freedom House.

China also announced Monday that it "has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for U.S. warships to go to Hong Kong for (rest and) recuperation as of today."

A foreign spokeswoman said, "China urges the United States to correct its mistakes, stop any deeds and acts of interference in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs."

In another development, Reuters reports that hundreds of Hong Kong office workers came together during their lunch break Monday, the first in a week of lunchtime protests to show their support for pro-democracy politicians who were handed a resounding victory in district polls last week.

Protests erupted in Hong Kong in June over the local government's plans to allow some criminal suspects to be extradited to the Chinese mainland.

Hong Kong officials withdrew the bill in September, but the street protests have continued, with the demonstrators fearing Beijing is preparing to water down Hong Kong's democracy and autonomy nearly 30 years before the former British colony's "special status" expires.