The financial sanctions and the travel ban are seen as part of efforts by outgoing US President Donald Trump to solidify his harsh legacy against China.
The United States on Monday imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 Chinese officials for their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification last month from opposition politicians in Hong Kong.
The move, which was first reported by Reuters news agency overnight and brought down Asian stock markets, targeted the vice-chairs of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the main decision-making body of the Chinese legislature.
The action has been widely seen as part of an effort by incumbent US President Donald Trump to solidify his legacy of harshness towards China and place President-elect Joe Biden in radical positions on Beijing at a time of anti-bipartisan sentiment. Chinese in Congress. Biden will take office on January 20.
The Trump administration previously imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam, current and former Asian Financial Center police chiefs and other senior officials in August for what she said was their role in the reduction of freedoms in a repression of the territory’s pro-democracy movement.
“Beijing’s relentless assault on Hong Kong’s democratic processes has emptied its legislative council, making the body a buffer without significant opposition,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong last month expelled four opposition members from its legislature after the Chinese parliament gave city officials new powers to curb dissent. The move sparked massive resignations from pro-democracy opposition lawmakers in the former British colony.
US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said in November that the expulsion showed the ‘one country, two systems’ formula, according to which Hong Kong’s autonomy was to be safeguarded after the UK returned the territory to China in 1997, was now “just a fig leaf,” and he promised further action from the United States.
Pompeo said the NPCSC had effectively ‘neutralized’ the ability of the people of Hong Kong to choose their elected representatives, and added: “These actions once again demonstrate Beijing’s utter disregard for its international commitments under the Declaration. joint Sino-British, a UN- [United Nations] registered treaty. “
Beijing’s action has heightened alarm in the West. The Five Eyes intelligence exchange group – made up of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – said last month the move appeared to be part of a campaign aimed at silencing the critics and called on China to reverse the trend.
The sanctions bar 14 people and their immediate family members from traveling to the United States. Any assets that officials may have in the United States will be blocked and American individuals and businesses will be prohibited from doing business with them.
The news kept global markets at the forefront as investors worried about new Sino-U.S. Tensions, which offset bets on more stimulus in Europe and the United States.