US Sanctions More Chinese Officials Over Crackdown On Hong Kong’s Democracy

(Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The U.S. imposed sanctions Friday on seven Chinese officials from the mainland government’s Hong Kong liaison office over Beijing’s continued crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.

The sanctions were posted by the Treasury Department and target deputy directors at the Hong Kong liaison office, which is used by the central government in Beijing to coordinate its policies in the semi-autonomous territory. The seven officials listed as “specially designated nationals” are Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tienui, Yang Jianping and Yin Zonghua.

In an advisory issued earlier Friday, President Joe Biden’s administration warned U.S. companies about doing business in a “deteriorating” Hong Kong. The president told reporters Thursday the advisory was necessary in part because of the Chinese government’s actions in Hong Kong.

Mass pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong in 2019 over an extradition bill that critics called an intrusion on the city’s political autonomy. In response to protests, China implemented a controversial national security law in 2020 that gave the central government more control over Hong Kong’s democratic legislature and criminalized actions viewed as challenging its authority.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration ended preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong and sanctioned multiple Chinese and Hong Kong officials. The Biden administration also imposed sanctions on officials from mainland China and Hong Kong earlier this year. (RELATED: Tech Giants Threaten To Leave Hong Kong Over Anti-Doxxing Law)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement Friday that both China’s government and Hong Kong officials backed by Beijing have “systematically undermined” Hong Kong’s democratic institutions over the past year.

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action,” he said. “Today we send a clear message that the United States resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian shot back at the U.S. during a news conference earlier Friday before the sanctions were formally announced. He told reporters the U.S. should “stop interfering” in China’s internal affairs and that Beijing will “respond strongly” to any U.S. action.