US imposes visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials in response to passing of tough security law

US imposes visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials in response to passing of tough security law
  • PublishedApril 1, 2024

The United States will impose new visa restrictions on a number of Hong Kong officials over the crackdown on rights and freedoms in the Chinese-ruled territory.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that in the past year China continued to take actions against Hong Kong’s promised high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and rights and freedoms, including with the recent enactment of a new national security law known as Article 23.

“In response, the Department of State is announcing that it is taking steps to impose new visa restrictions on multiple Hong Kong officials responsible for the intensifying crackdown on rights and freedoms,” Mr Blinken said in a statement.

The statement did not identify the officials who would be targeted.

In November, Hong Kong condemned a US bill calling for sanctions against 49 Hong Kong officials, judges and prosecutors involved in national security cases, saying US legislators were grandstanding and trying to intimidate the city.

A group of people stand below the red Hong Kong flag.
Hong Kong politicians pose for photographs following the passing of the Basic Law Article 23 legislation.(Associated Press: Louise Delmotte)

Officials named in that Hong Kong Sanctions Act included Secretary for Justice Paul Lam, Police chief Raymond Siu and judges Andrew Cheung, Andrew Chan, Johnny Chan, Alex Lee, Esther Toh and Amanda Woodcock.

The United States has imposed visa restrictions and other sanctions in the past on Hong Kong officials blamed for undermining freedoms and announced an end to the special economic treatment the territory long enjoyed under US law.

It has also warned that foreign financial institutions that conduct business with them would be subject to sanctions.

The US Hong Kong Policy Act requires the State Department to report each year to Congress on conditions in Hong Kong.

“This year, I have again certified that Hong Kong does not warrant treatment under US laws in the same manner as the laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1, 1997,” Mr Blinken said, referring to when Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain.

“This year’s report catalogues the intensifying repression and ongoing crackdown by PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Hong Kong authorities on civil society, media, and dissenting voices, including through the issuance of bounties and arrest warrants for more than a dozen pro-democracy activists living outside Hong Kong,” Mr Blinken said.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement the US will impose visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials.

The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong said the report and statements issued by Mr Blinken “confused right and wrong” and “stigmatised” Hong Kong’s national security law and the city’s electoral system.

The threat to sanction Hong Kong officials “grossly interferes” in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs, a spokesperson said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“Instead of acting as the world’s policeman and issuing an annual ‘Hong Kong Policy Act report’, the United States should take time to examine itself.”

China’s embassy in Washington said it strongly deplored and firmly opposed US threats to “impose unwarranted unilateral sanctions” on Hong Kong.

“The US side disregards facts, makes irresponsible remarks about Hong Kong affairs, and levels groundless accusations” at the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, the embassy posted on its website.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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