China has responded to the legislation signed by President Donald Trump backing Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters with sanctions targeted at US non-profit organisations, the Washington Post has reported.
National Endowment for Democracy and Human Rights Watch among other organisations are set to be affected by the Chinese retaliatory action.
The announcement of the sanctions was made by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who claimed that the US organisations bore responsibility for the political turmoil in Hong Kong.
“They bear great responsibility for the current chaos in Hong Kong,” she said. “These organizations deserve to be sanctioned and they must pay the price for it," she added.
The Washington Post warned in its report that the Chinese announcement had the potential of elevating Hong Kong as a flashpoint between the US and China.
Non-profit organisation workers have long faced harassment in China including arrests and deportation.
Patrick Poon, a renowned researcher, termed the announcement an empty threat according to Bloomberg.
“This seems to be an empty threat because these groups don’t operate inside mainland China,” said Patrick Poon. “But if there are more tangible threats on staffers and representatives for these organizations operating in Hong Kong, it would be a serious clampdown on freedom of expression.”
The Chinese response also included suspending US military activities in Hong Kong, according to Reuters.