U.S. Issues Sanctions Against 24 Chinese Government Officials

The U.S. has sanctioned 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on the city’s political freedom, days ahead of the Biden administration’s first in-person talks with China.

These sanctions reflect the Biden administration’s “deep concern” over Hong Kong’s autonomy following the changes to its election system last week, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The changes allow a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong’s lawmakers, rather than allowing Hong Kong to elect more of its own politicians.

The State Department announced that foreign financial institutions involving the 24 officials will also be subjected to U.S. sanctions. The U.S. announcement was made during a visit by Bilken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Japan and South Korea, two countries weary of China’s growing economic, military and political power.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian said the U.S.’s sanctions “fully exposes the U.S. side’s sinister intention to interfere with China’s internal affairs, disrupt Hong Kong and obstruct China’s stability and development.” 

In Tokyo, Bilken and Austin issued a joint statement with their Japanese counterparts expressing their concern over Beijing’s human rights violations in the western Xinjiang region against ethnic miniority groups and China’s desire to alter the status of a group of uninhabited islands governed by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. 

The two will travel to Seoul on Wednesday for their face-to-face talks with China.

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