In Hong Kong, the winner is Trump by a knockout.
An image of President Donald Trump’s face on the body of iconic movie hero Rocky Balboa appears to have become a symbol for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and was part of massive Thanksgiving Day protests in the city, which has been roiled by demonstrations since June.
The story began on a Rocky-esque note Wednesday, as Trump tweeted a picture of his head superimposed on Balboa, played by actor Sylvester Stallone.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2019
Although ESPN had previously noted the date as the 34th anniversary of the release of “Rocky IV,” no text accompanied Trump’s tweet, which was lampooned by some:
On this day in 1985, Rocky Balboa shocked the world, knocking out Ivan Drago in the 15th round ? pic.twitter.com/K7km5lWgWZ
— ESPN (@espn) November 27, 2019
You’ve never looked like this in your life. Tweeting this out for world leaders to see is bad for the U.S. VP Pence should be in discussion with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader McConnell about the 25th Amendment. You need serious intervention.
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) November 27, 2019
“Trump had the internet scratching its collective head,” Variety reported.
People, meanwhile, called the image “bizarre.”
Trump has mastered the art of drunk-tweeting, sober. https://t.co/gQSMiIbreB
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) November 27, 2019
Like can you imagine being the most powerful man in the world after Vladimir Putin and then also needing to photoshop your face onto Rocky Balboa
How desperately and clinically and dangerously fragile would your ego have to be
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) November 27, 2019
But that was before Trump hit China with a one-two punch, as noted by the New York Post.
On Wednesday afternoon, Trump signed two bills aimed toward fighting abuses of human rights in Hong Kong. The laws would sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials who violate human rights, put Hong Kong’s trade status under an annual review and ban the export of certain weapons to Hong Kong police.
The effect in Hong Kong was electric.
“Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” thousands of protesters chanted Thursday.
Many of them were holding up copies of the Rocky image Trump had posted. Others were waving American flags.
They also sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” according to The Washington Post.
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) November 29, 2019
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 29, 2019
These photos from the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong are incredible.
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) November 28, 2019
Trump’s move spurred diplomatic sparring.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng called Trump’s punches a “serious interference in China’s internal affairs and a serious violation of international law,” a ministry statement said.
He accused Trump of a “nakedly hegemonic act.”
The U.S. Embassy said the Chinese government “must honor its promises to the Hong Kong people.”
Trump issued a statement when he signed the bills that read, “I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi, China, and the people of Hong Kong. They are being enacted in the hope that Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”
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