On 7 December, the US Treasury Department announced that more than a dozen Chinese officials were targeted by a new round of sanctions in relation to the Hong Kong issue.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has vowed to take firm countermeasures against new US sanctions on the country’s officials, Reuters reported Tuesday.
According to the ministry’s spokeswoman Hua Chunying, US behaviour in this regard was “unwarranted and vile”, as the Chinese government was determined to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.
China urged the US to walk back on its decision that targeted 14 Chinese individuals, as announced on Monday by US Treasury Department. The list of designated officials that came under US fire included Vice-Chairpersons of 13th National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) Dafeng Cai and Jianming Cao, and many other country’s leading figures.
According to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the sanctions came as a response to Beijing “developing, adopting, or implementing the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”.
“The NPCSC voted unanimously to adopt the National Security Law that Beijing has used repeatedly to stifle dissent and arrest those who protest Beijing’s oppressive policies,” Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.
The measures forbid individuals affected by sanctions and their immediate family members to travel to the US. Their assets in the country or under US jurisdiction would also be frozen. According to the US Secretary of State, Americans will also be generally prohibited from dealing with the targeted Chinese nationals.
Washington had already sanctioned four Chinese nationals in relation to Hong Kong protests in November.
Security Law in Question
Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China, witnessed a wave of protests in June 2019 after Beijing proposed a bill potentially allowing people to be extradited to the mainland. Even after the proposal was withdrawn, the riots continued for weeks, turning violent, with Beijing blaming the revolt on foreign interference.
In late June 2020, China introduced a new security law, dubbed the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, which has criminalised acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces. The legislation was met with strong criticism from Hong Kong and the United States, with President Trump threatening to sanction China, claiming that the new law was undermining the autonomy of the territory.