The people of Hong Kong rally behind President Trump at a Thanksgiving Day event, thanking the President for signing legislation supporting their cause. Holding up posters of the now-iconic ‘Trump Rocky Balboa’ image floated around Twitter earlier this week, they look to the President for salvation.
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:
China, which has accused the U.S. of fomenting Hong Kong unrest, denounced the new legislation.