The sanctions were introduced under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA), which was passed by the United States last year in response to Beijing’s imposition of a new security law national in Hong Kong which prohibits secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
Among those sanctioned were Wang Chen, a member of the 25-person Politburo, one of China’s main legislative bodies, and Tam Yiu-chung, the only Hong Kong man on the committee that drafted the national security law. Many of these figures had previously been nominated by the Trump administration and excluded from the United States, but not directly under the HKAA.
Blinken said the new sanctions underline “our deep concern over the March 11 decision by the National People’s Congress to unilaterally undermine Hong Kong’s electoral system.”
Among those sanctioned were several high-ranking members of the AFN, the Chinese rubber stamp parliament and law enforcement officials in Hong Kong. Town chief Carrie Lam and a number of senior police commanders had been punished before.
“The move further undermines the high degree of autonomy promised to Hong Kong residents and denies Hong Kongers a voice in their own governance, a move the UK has said is in violation of the Sino-UK joint statement.” , said Blinken.
“A stable and prosperous Hong Kong that respects human rights, freedoms and political pluralism serves the interests of Hong Kong, mainland China and the international community as a whole.” The United States is united with our allies and partners to defend the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong, and we will respond when the PRC fails to fulfill its obligations, ”he added.
Wednesday’s sanctions come as Hong Kong’s legislature is due to consider a new bill establishing a “patriotism” test for election candidates, which is expected to limit most members of the mainstream opposition. Passage of the bill is guaranteed, as the legislature currently has no opposition members, as pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse in protest against the expulsion of several of their colleagues last year.
Washington’s move comes after Blinken expressed concern during a meeting with his counterparts in Tokyo over China’s use of “coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong,” undermine democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law. “
In response to the comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday that exchanges between the United States and Japan should help increase mutual understanding and trust among countries in the region. and “not to target or undermine the interests of a third party”.
The new sanctions could attract a much more forceful response from Beijing, which was seeking a provisional rapprochement with the administration of US President Joe Biden, albeit largely on China’s terms.
A major step towards improving relations was due to take place in Alaska on Thursday, when Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meet with China’s two top diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi.
Beijing has yet to respond to the new sanctions, but observers immediately speculated that this aggressive move by Washington ahead of the meeting could result in its overturning.
Last week, Zhao, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, urged the United States to “abandon the cold war and zero-sum mentality, respect the sovereignty, security and development interests of the United States. China ”and“ to stop interfering in the internal affairs of China ”. generally used to refer to Washington pressuring Beijing over Hong Kong.