U.S. imposes new sanctions on Chinese leaders over Hong Kong laws

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"President Trump promised to punish the Chinese Communist Party officials who were responsible for eviscerating Hong Kong's freedoms".

"The United States will also take necessary steps to sanction PRC and Hong Kong officials directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong's autonomy and - just if you take a look, smothering - absolutely smothering Hong Kong's freedom".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday Washington was imposing visa restrictions on several Chinese officials, accusing them of infringing on the autonomy of Hong Kong.

China's top legislature will hold another round of meetings to discuss again the draft national security law for Hong Kong.

The US on Friday issued a first wave of visa sanctions on current and former Chinese officials over efforts Washington says are meant to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy.

Responding to the move, the Chinese embassy in Washington said it "firmly opposes the U.S. side's wrongful decisions".

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong pay their respects in June 2020 to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of a man who took a fatal fall after hanging a banner against a now-withdrawn extradition bill that sparked mass protests (AFP
U.S. imposes new sanctions on Chinese leaders over Hong Kong laws

He said the State Department would begin warning U.S. citizens of the threat of surveillance and arrest when visiting the city. A Bloomberg columnist quoted a department official as saying the number of officials targeted was "in the single digits". "The Chinese side will continue to take strong measures to uphold national sovereignty, security and development interests", it said.

Pompeo's announcement comes at a time of intensified US rhetoric against Beijing in the midst of Trump's re-election campaign, in which opinion polls have shown voters increasingly embittered toward China, especially over the coronavirus, which began in that country. Opinion polls have shown voters increasingly embittered toward China, especially over the coronavirus, which began there.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to say how many people were affected or even if they would all be denied entry to the United States.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region under China since 1997, witnessed large-scale protests a year ago against a move to legalize extradition of accused persons to mainland China.

"China has said it wants to improve" the lives of those who live in Hong Kong, but reality, that means stripping the people of Hong Kong of the basic rights and liberties guaranteed to them under the 1984 treaty, Hawley said.

The announcement of the visa policy came a day after the US Senate passed a bill, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, that would place economic sanctions in the US on Chinese officials and Hong Kong police identified as working to damage Hong Kong's autonomous status. The measure also includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone found to be backing any crackdown on the territory's autonomy, potentially cutting them off from American counterparts and limiting access to USA dollar transactions. Among other clues signalling a vote on the security law, a delegation from Hong Kong has been invited to attend the congressional meeting in Beijing, including members of the island's Basic Law Committee.

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