China on Monday imposed sanctions on eleven American citizens, including Senators, in retaliation for similar orders passed by United States President Donald Trump against officials in Hong Kong over their alleged roles in curtailing political freedom in the region, Reuters reported.
The list of US citizens sanctioned by China include Representative Chris Smith, Senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey and members of rights groups and non-profit organisations.
Chinese foreign ministry Spokesperson Lijian Zhao said that the US citizens had “behaved egregiously” on matters related to Hong Kong. He, however, did not give details about the implication of the sanctions.
Last week, Trump had signed an executive order to impose sanctions on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 10 other senior officials in the territory and mainland China. The order said that the properties of the sanctioned officials in the US would be seized and their and assets frozen. Hong Kong had called the sanctions a “blatant and barbaric interference” in the internal affairs. The US has fiercely opposed China’s new security law in Hong Kong.
In June, China’s Parliament passed a national security legislation for Hong Kong that would override local laws and give sweeping powers to security agencies. The unprecedented law is aimed at curbing protests – which rocked Hong Kong last year – and prohibiting subversion, separatism, “acts of foreign interference”, and terrorism. These charges are often used in the Chinese mainland to stifle dissidents and political opponents. The new law will also allow China’s security personnel to operate in Hong Kong.
Under the new law, certain political views and symbols, including those showing support for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet independence, are now illegal.
The new legislation came after people in Hong Kong held anti-Beijing protests for months from June 2019. China said the security law was necessary to stop the type of protests seen in Hong Kong. Critics say China’s law ends the freedoms that were guaranteed for 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement when British rule ended in 1997.