United States sanctions 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials

US sanctions 24 officials over Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong, hours before first face-to-face talks with China

According to a CNN report, the sanctions were introduced by the USA under the auspices of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was passed previous year after Beijing ratified a new, more restrictive national security law in Hong Kong.

The US is expressing its displeasure over Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong by sanctioning 24 officials from Hong Kong and China, a move that comes just before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet with top Chinese diplomats in Alaska.

The electoral law changes, which were approved by China's ceremonial legislature last week, give a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong's lawmakers, reducing the proportion of those directly elected, and ensure that only those determined to be truly loyal to Beijing are allowed to run for office.

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and top United States diplomat Antony Blinken are on their first overseas trip, which began on Monday in Japan, looking to shore up regional alliances and send a robust message to Beijing.

"China will take strong measures as appropriate to resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and development interests", Zhao said.

Speaking to a roundtable of Japanese journalists in Tokyo, Blinken said Beijing was "raising tensions not diminishing them" in the region by its maritime actions and posturing over Taiwan.

The U.S. has said Thursday's meeting will be an initial opportunity to address intense disagreements over trade and human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Those sanctioned include senior members of the Chinese parliament and Hong Kong police officials.

Chinese officials targeted by the latest sanctions from the United States include Wang Chen, part of China's elite 25-person Politburo and those responsible for developing and implementing a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong that criminalises anything authorities deem as terrorism, secession, subversion and foreign collusion.

China has rejected all criticism of its policies toward Hong Kong, accusing foreign governments of interfering and saying political tightening was necessary following months of anti-government protests in 2019.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam was previously sanctioned under the HKAA.

The sanctions announced Tuesday in Washington were introduced under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act and list people who are deemed to contribute to the failure of China in meeting its obligations under Hong Kong's mini-constitution.



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