CHINA has said it will suspend US navy visits to Hong Kong and sanction several American pro-democracy organisations in retaliation for the signing into law of legislation supporting human rights in the semi-autonomous territory.

The move appeared to back up Chinese threats that the US would bear the costs of the decision.

The steps are “in response to the US’s unreasonable behaviour”, said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. She added that the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act “seriously interfered” in China’s affairs.

“China urges the United States to correct its mistakes and stop any words and deeds that interfere in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs,” she said yesterday.

The law, signed last Wednesday by US President Donald Trump, mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favourable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.

Along with suspending visits by US military ships and aircraft, Hua said China would sanction organis-ations including the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, the Inter- national Republican Institute, and others she said had “performed badly” in the Hong Kong unrest.

Hua accused the groups of instigating protesters to engage in “radical violent crimes and inciting separatist activities”. “These organisations deserve to be sanctioned and must pay a price,” she said.

Beijing is deeply suspicious of all non-governmental organisations, particularly those involved in humanitarian causes, gender equality, the environment or minority rights.