Updates on US-China Relations
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China has imposed sanctions on former US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and six Americans associated with human rights institutions in retaliation for a similar action by Washington against Chinese officials in Hong Kong.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that in addition to sanctions against Ross, who served in the Trump administration, it targeted Carolyn Bartholomew, chair of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, and Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
China has also imposed sanctions on officials from the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and the US-based Hong Kong Democratic Council. He did not say what the sanctions entail exactly.
The move comes two days before US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is expected to land in China for the second summit between the countries since President Joe Biden took office in January.
It is the first time Beijing has imposed sanctions under a new anti-sanction law that allows the Chinese government to target individuals or groups that help foreign countries impose sanctions on China.
The State Department said China was responding to the US’s recent decision to impose sanctions on seven mainland Chinese officials in Hong Kong.
When the US issued the sanctions, it also warned US companies that they would face heightened risks operating in Hong Kong as China tightened its grip on the financial center. The Biden administration said companies should be particularly concerned about China’s anti-sanction law.
“The US has concocted the so-called ‘Hong Kong Business Advisory’ to unjustifiably smear Hong Kong’s business environment, and has illegally imposed sanctions on several [Chinese] officials,” the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. “In response to the incorrect practice of the US, China has decided to take mutual countermeasures.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration was “not deterred” by the move and would continue to implement US sanctions against China.
Beijing’s attempts to intimidate and bully internationally are respected worden [non-governmental organisations] just shows his further isolation from the world,” Psaki said.
The US had also announced new sanctions against China two days before the first high-level meeting between the two sides under the Biden administration, which took place in Alaska in March.
Since the last US sanctions were announced, Hong Kong has continued to attack government critics. Five members of a speech therapists’ union were arrested Thursday for illustrating children’s books and charged with inciting hatred against the government.
Earlier this week, more executives of Apple Daily, the pro-democracy tabloid that was shut down under pressure from China, were charged under the national security law China imposed on Hong Kong last year as part of its effort to crack down on the pro-democratic movement in the territory.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said on Friday that Hong Kongers have not lost any freedoms since the legislation was passed. “If you look at the stock market, the real estate market and the technology sector, the start-ups, even art and culture now, they’re all booming.”