Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong held up posters featuring U.S. President Donald Trump depicted as “Rocky Balboa” at a special rally on Thanksgiving Day to thank the president for signing legislation supporting their cause.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a humorous image of his face superimposed on Sylvester Stallone’s body, circa 1976, in the role of prizefighter Rocky Balboa.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2019
Except in Hong Kong. There, protesters appear to have taken the image seriously, as a depiction of American resolve against China.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed two relevant bills into law. One, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, “mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong,” the Associated Press reported. The other bill prohibits the export to Hong Kong of non-lethal arms used by police to suppress protests.
It was not clear at first whether the president would sign the bills, though they had overwhelming support in Congress. Trump is in the midst of delicate trade talks with China, and while he has sometimes used the Hong Kong issue to gain leverage, he has also appealed to China by supporting talks instead of confrontation. In a statement Wednesday, he said: “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong.”
Once the bills were signed, protesters were jubilant. At the Thanksgiving rally, they sang The Star-Spangled Banner:
— Roz al Ghul ☀️ (@PolitiKurd) November 28, 2019
China, which has accused the U.S. of fomenting Hong Kong unrest, denounced the new legislation.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.