China on Thursday said new US sanctions on officials responsible for Hong Kong security are an attempt to undermine the city's stability and threatened unspecified countermeasures.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the US Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which requires the secretary of state to report to Congress on people seen to be impeding civil rights in the territory.
Ten Chinese central government and Hong Kong officials were included in this year’s report, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Police Commissioner Chris Tang.
The report “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs”, further exposing Washington’s “sinister intentions to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development”, Zhao said.
“If the US insists on going its own way, China will take resolute countermeasures to safeguard national sovereignty and security interests, and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and related personnel,” Zhao said.
The sanctions include visa restrictions and potentially bar dealings between the named individuals and US financial institutions. The same officials were sanctioned under an executive order in August, shortly after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the former British colony.
“Through the imposition of the National Security Law, the [Communist Party of China] has crippled democratic institutions, human rights, judicial independence, and individual freedoms in Hong Kong,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement accompanying the sanctions announcement.
Ortagus cited the arrests of peaceful protestors, the stationing of Chinese security agents in the territory and the “politically motivated delay” of September elections for the local assembly as evidence of the deterioration of rights promised to Hong Kong by Beijing at the time of its 1997 handover to Chinese control.