The U.S. has sanctioned seven Chinese officials for their participation in China’s clampdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
The officials were targeted under the 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which “imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities that materially contribute to China’s failure to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy.” The sanctions provide for asset freezes and other penalties.
Those sanctioned are with China’s Hong Kong liaison office, which represents the Beijing government’s interests in Hong Kong.
Shortly before the sanctions were announced, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular news conference in Beijing that “China will respond firmly and forcefully to the measures taken by the United States.”
Separately Friday, the U.S. issued an advisory that warned U.S. companies about the legal perils and reputational risks if they conduct business in Hong Kong amid a shifting legal landscape in the former British colony.
President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House Thursday after reviewing the advisory that Hong Kong’s business environment is “deteriorating” and could get worse.
The seven individuals whom the U.S. Treasury Department added its list of “specially designated nationals” are Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tienui, Yang Jianping, and Yin Zonghua. They are all deputy directors at the liaison office, according to online biographies.