China imposes sanctions on US officials over Hong Kong

Beijing, Dec 10 (efe-epa).- China on Thursday announced “reciprocal” sanctions on United States officials, lawmakers and NGO representatives, and their family members in retaliation for similar measures by the White House over Hong Kong.

Chinese authorities also temporarily banned US diplomats from carrying out visa-free visits to Hong Kong and Macao, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.

Hua urged the US to stop getting involved in Hong Kong and avoid interfering in China’s internal matters.

She warned Washington against going “further down the wrong and dangerous path,” according to local media reports.

China on Tuesday warned that it would take retaliatory measures against the US for imposing sanctions on 14 members of the National People’s Congress, the Chinese legislature, for their alleged role in the removal of four opposition lawmakers in the Hong Kong assembly.

The 14 lawmakers are the vice presidents of the Standing Committee of the NPC, which drafted the controversial National Security Law, according to the US State Department.

China imposed the law in Hong Kong in June.

Washington froze the assets of the 14 lawmakers they might have held in the US and banned them from carrying out financial transactions with any US citizen.

On Nov 11, four opposition lawmakers were dismissed in Hong Kong after PNA approved a resolution by which parliamentarians lose their seats if they promote Hong Kong’s independence, support foreign intervention or participate in acts compromising national security.

Some 15 remaining anti-Beijing lawmakers in the Hong Kong assembly also resigned from their posts in protest.

The National Security Law was to defuse the worst crisis the city has witnessed after a wave of pro-democracy protests in 2019, which often escalated into violent clashes between the police and radical protesters.

However, since its imposition on June 30, there have been numerous police raids and arrests of pro-democracy activists.

Some of the activists have chosen to go into exile to try to avoid reprisals for activities that under the new legislation could constitute a crime.

The US sanctions come at a time when US President Donald Trump is trying to sustain pressure on Beijing during the last few weeks of his presidency, which will end on Jan 20 with the swearing-in of president-elect Joe Biden. EFE-EPA


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