US imposes new sanctions on Chinese leaders over Hong Kong laws

Visa restrictions will be imposed on Chinese leaders believed to be responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the United States was imposing visa restrictions on Chinese Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for restricting freedoms in Hong Kong.

The move comes in advance of a meeting of China’s parliament next week that is expected to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong that has alarmed foreign governments and democracy activists in the special administrative region.

The US visa restrictions apply to “current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy”, Pompeo said without naming them.

On Thursday, the Republican-majority US Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would impose mandatory sanctions on people or companies that back efforts to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.

The measure includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone backing any crackdown on the territory’s autonomy, potentially cutting them off from American counterparts and limiting access to US dollar transactions.

The Chinese legislation aims to tackle separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, although it is unclear what activities would constitute such crimes and what the punishments would be. China says it will target only a small group of troublemakers.

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