China imposed sanctions Thursday against U.S. officials who allegedly “performed badly” over Hong Kong issues in response to the restrictions on Chinese officials over Beijing’s illegal crackdown on the supposedly autonomous region.
In a press briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister spokeswoman Hua Chunying announced the sanctions but did not clarify which individuals were targeted.
“China has decided to take action against US executive officials, congressmen, non-governmental organization personnel, and their immediate family members who have performed badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” she said. “At the same time, China has decided to cancel the visa-free treatment for temporary visits to Hong Kong and Macau by U.S. diplomatic passport holders.”
Hua added that the move was taken “in view of the United States using Hong Kong-related issues to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs,” before calling on Washington to “stop going further down a wrong and dangerous path.”
The move came just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against 14 members of China’s National People’s Congress in response to the illegal “national security law” imposed on Hong Kong.
Under the law, participating in practically any form of political dissidence is considered a serious crime, paving the way for the arrest of thousands of activists and campaigners. It represents the most severe violation of Hong Kong’s sovereignty since China signed the “One Country, Two Systems” with the United Kingdom following its handover in 1997.
The law punishes, with a minimum of ten years in prison, four acts: “terrorism,” “foreign interference,” “secession,” and “subversion of state power.” Beijing is not legally allowed to pass any laws applicable in Hong Kong through “One Country, Two Systems.”
“Beijing’s unrelenting assault against Hong Kong’s democratic processes has gutted its Legislative Council, rendering the body a rubber stamp devoid of meaningful opposition,” Pompeo said in a statement Monday.
“Our actions today underscore that the United States will continue to work with our allies and partners to hold Beijing accountable for undermining Hong Kong’s promised autonomy,” he continued. “The United States again urges Beijing to abide by its international commitments and to heed the voices of many countries, which have condemned its actions.”
The most senior of those sanctioned is Wang Chen, a prominent member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo. The sanction is only the second of its kind, on a member of the Politburo, in history. In July, Pompeo sanctioned Chen Quanguo, the CCP chief in Xinjiang, where over a million Uyghur Muslims are currently imprisoned in concentration camps.