BEIJING • China said it would apply sanctions against 11 US citizens, including officials, starting yesterday, in response to Washington’s move last Friday to impose sanctions on 11 Hong Kong and Chinese officials whom it accused of curtailing political freedoms in the city.
Among those targeted were senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey and Representative Chris Smith, as well as individuals at non-profit and rights groups.
“In response to those wrong US behaviours, China has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said yesterday. He did not specify what the sanctions entail.
Beijing’s move is the latest in a tit-for-tat round of sanctions between China and the US over allegations of rights abuses and interference.
Washington last Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam as well as the city’s current and former police chiefs, under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump.
Those sanctions freeze any US assets owned by the officials and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
The American lawmakers targeted by Beijing have been vocal critics of a new national security law that expands Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong.
Last month, Beijing announced sanctions against Mr Cruz, Mr Rubio, Mr Smith and other American officials after Washington penalised senior Chinese officials over the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Beijing’s latest measure includes sanctions against the heads of five US-based non-governmental organisations – the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch.