(Image: Studio Incendo, Creative Commons)

Following sustained pressure from elected representatives of both major parties, Donald Trump signed two bills in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The Human Rights and Democracy Act and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act target Chinese officials responsible for the violent suppression of protests and prevents the White House from issuing licenses to export defense equipment to authorities in Hong Kong.

The two bills passed congress with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Protests in Hong Kong have been ongoing since June, when people first filled the streets in response to an extradition law that would have permitted authorities to move Hong Kong residents out of the city for prosecution in mainland China. While authorities have since withdrawn the proposed legislation, Hong Kong residents have continued to organize in the streets, suspicious that the Chinese government is still actively undermining Hong Kong’s relatively strong protections of free speech.

In response to Trump’s signing of the two bills, the Chinese government has officially barred the U.S. navy and military from making stops in Hong Kong. Authorities in China have also indicated that the human rights legislation could complicate negotiations for a trade agreement with the United States, sending markets into a tailspin.

Additionally, the Chinese government has announced sanctions against a group of U.S. nonprofits and NGOs for their “odious behavior,” including the National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the International Republican Institute.

Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign ministry, accused the organizations of stoking violence in Hong Kong: “They bear great responsibility for the current chaos in Hong Kong. These organizations deserve to be sanctioned and they must pay the price for it.”

The sanctions are largely symbolic, and should be worn as a mark of pride by the targeted organizations. Nonprofits strive for a better world by pursuing their missions. China’s official disapproval simply indicates that these organizations are doing their job.

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