China Responds to U.S. Hong Kong Act with Praise for People’s Liberation Army

Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images
Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images

China responded on Friday to U.S. President Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Decency Act by using its state media to praise the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) garrison stationed in Hong Kong.

President Trump said when he signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Decency Act on Wednesday that he did so “out of respect for President Xi [Jinping], China, and the people of Hong Kong.”

Trump said he hoped the U.S. legislation, which requires an annual review of human rights in Hong Kong when the city’s special trade status is renewed and provides for sanctions against Chinese officials who violate the human rights of Hong Kong citizens, would help China, Hong Kong officials, and protesters “amicably settle their differences, leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

The Chinese government nevertheless denounced the actions taken by Trump and the U.S. Congress as “pure interference in China’s internal affairs” and risibly predicted Hong Kongers would reject it as “sinister” evidence of America’s “hegemonic intentions.”

In truth, the jubilant people of Hong Kong flooded the streets waving American flags and hilarious photoshops of Trump’s face on the body of iconic fictional boxer Rocky Balboa.

Beijing apparently decided to squash those good vibes on the streets of Hong Kong with a salute to the PLA garrison from the Chinese Defense Ministry, published by the state-run Global Times, that also served as a very thinly veiled reminder that Chinese troops are ready to storm the city and put down any popular uprisings that might occur:

The Hong Kong garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has the determination, confidence and ability to fulfill its responsibility endowed by the Basic Law and Garrison Law; and will strongly safeguard Hong Kong’s long-term stability and prosperity, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of National Defense (MOD) said on a Thursday briefing.

Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson of MOD made the remarks when asked if the troops would take measures to subdue riots in Hong Kong. Ren said that the PLA Hong Kong Garrison is always ready to follow orders from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Central Military Commission.

The Global Times spent a few paragraphs scoffing at those who were alarmed when PLA soldiers emerged from their barracks to help clean up the streets, repeating the assertions by PLA officers that the men volunteered to help with “cleaning up the mess on the road left by rioters” and won the applause of most Hong Kong residents by doing so.

The article continued by quoting gushing praise for Chinese soldiers from users of Weibo, the main Chinese social media platform because the platforms used by the free world are banned in China.

Weibo users were said to be especially awestruck by the PLA garrison in Hong Kong, which they praised as “cardiac stimulant for Hong Kong people” and a source of strength for “people’s confidence in the city’s future,” according to a Chinese academic quoted by the Global Times.

A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman answered questions about the ministry’s praise for the Hong Kong PLA garrison on Friday. Asked what the Chinese military is doing to “end violence and chaos” in Hong Kong, he replied that Xi’s “recent remarks on the Hong Kong situation are the strongest voice from the central government on the work of ending violence and chaos and have pointed the way to stabilizing the situation.”

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