Monday, February 6, 2023

US sanctions Chinese officials for crackdown on Hong Kong

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The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Chinese officials in response to the crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, which continued last week with the arrests of politicians and activists.

The State Department sanctions target two Chinese Communist Party officials involved in shaping Hong Kong policy, in addition to a pro-Beijing lawmaker in Hong Kong and three Hong Kong security officials in the police.

The sanctions are the latest in a series of actions President Donald Trump has taken against China in his last few weeks in office, ranging from security threats to concerns over the targeting of democracy activists in Hong Kong following China’s decision to impose draconian national security. law on the territory last year. It comes just five days before Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States.

The State Department said the sanctions – which prevent Americans from dealing with those targeted – were in response to Hong Kong arrest of more than 50 people on January 6 in “an appalling crackdown on pro-democracy politicians and activists who attempted to advance fair and open primary elections for the Hong Kong Legislative Council.”

The arrests marked the latest escalation in China’s effort – allowed by the pro-Beijing government in Hong Kong – to shut down the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony following the imposition of a National Security Law last year, under the Beijing framework. effort to erode its semi-autonomous status.

Several of the activists arrested were former lawmakers who resigned after four colleagues were disqualified due to the security law.

The State Department called on Hong Kong authorities to “immediately release or drop charges” against people who had been targeted under the National Security Act, including John Clancey, 79, an American lawyer and former priest, now the first expatriate arrested in Hong Kong under the law.

The administration rushed to implement several tough measures against China ahead of Mr. Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Some officials want to put in place measures the new US president would be hard-pressed to reverse in the face of bipartisan pressure from the Capitol for an assertive stance towards China.

This week, the United States put several Chinese companies, including the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and Xiaomi, on blacklists. Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone maker, has been placed on a Pentagon’s list of companies with suspected ties to the Chinese military, a move that bars Americans from investing in any of its titles.

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