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It comes just days after the US Treasury also announced sanctions on a number of senior Hong Kong officials – including the region’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam. China announced the fresh sanctions yesterday. They apply to 11 US citizens in total.
Many of the 11 sanction targets are Republican senators. However, others are senior figures in non-governmental organisations such as Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues.”
“The US practice is a blatant interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs.
“This is seriously in violation of the international law and the basic laws governing international relations. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns that.”
The sanctions have already come into effect, although Mr Lijian did not detail how they would be enforced or even what they would do.
They follow similar sanctions imposed by the US Treasury just four days prior.
The Treasury said it would apply sanctions on 11 individuals – a number mirrored by China’s retaliation – responsible for implementing policies “directly aimed at curbing freedom of expression and assembly, and democratic processes, and are subsequently responsible for the degradation of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
The US sanctions apply to Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, as well as its police force commissioner Chris Tang, among others.
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They mean that any US-based property owned by the 11 people named in the statement are “blocked” and cannot be used in transactions by anyone in the US.
The Treasury’s statement added: “The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.”
The tensions have emerged from the imposition of a controversial national security law on Hong Kong by Beijing at the end of June.
Many fear the law curbs the freedoms of Hong Kong residents, as the region enjoys a level of autonomy from mainland China.
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Just a day before Hong Kong announced its retaliatory sanctions, the US along with Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand had issued a joint statement criticising moves made by the Hong Kong government regarding its upcoming elections.
The elections – due to take place this September – have been delayed for a year.
In addition, a number of government opposition candidates have been banned from running in the elections altogether.
The joint statement reads: “We support the legitimate expectations of the people of Hong Kong to elect Legislative Council representatives via genuinely free, fair, and credible elections.
“We call on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates so that the elections can take place in an environment conducive to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Basic Law.
“We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.”
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