The United States on Monday imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 senior Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification of Hong Kong’s elected opposition legislators last month, prompting China to say it will retaliate.
According to the US State Department, the sanctions were imposed against 14 vice chairpersons of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the top decision-making body of the Chinese legislature. The sanctions ban the 14 individuals and immediate members of their families from traveling to the US, and any assets the officials might have there will be blocked. Americans and their companies will be banned from dealing with them.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news briefing on Tuesday that Beijing would take “firm countermeasures against the malicious actions by the U.S. to safeguard our sovereignty, security and developmental rights.” She also urged the United States to withdraw the decision. Hong Kong’s government last month expelled four opposition members from its legislature after China’s parliament gave the city such powers, triggering mass resignations by pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.
“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,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. The Trump administration earlier slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, it’s current and former police chiefs and other top officials in August for their alleged role in curtailing freedoms in a crackdown on the territory’s pro-democracy movement.
US led The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group – composed of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States said last month, the move appeared to be part of a campaign to silence critics, and called on China to reverse course.