The United States has sanctioned twenty-four Chinese and Hong Kong officials in conjunction with Beijing’s continuing crackdown on the city. This news comes ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with top Chinese leaders, which is set to take place in Alaska.
On the other hand, the European Union also voted on Wednesday to blacklist Chinese authorities for human rights violations, the first such penalties against Beijing since an EU weapons embargo in 1989 in response to the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
As part of a new and wider rights sanctions list, EU ambassadors authorised travel bans and asset freezes on four Chinese persons and one organization, whose names will not be publicly disclosed until formal approval by EU foreign ministers on March 22.
The US sanctions were enforced under the Hong Kong autonomy act which was passed by the United States last year. “Foreign financial institutions that intentionally execute substantial transactions with the persons mentioned in today’s study are now subject to sanctions,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Wang Chen, one of the 24, is a member of the Politburo, China’s highest law-making body with 250 members. Another individual, Tam Yiu-chung, is the only Hong Konger on the committee that drafted the national security bill, according to ANI. Several of these individuals had historically been banned from entering the United States under the Trump administration, but not explicitly under the HKAA.
China has “unilaterally” weakened Hong Kong’s electoral structure, according to Blinken. “This action undercuts the high level of autonomy offered to Hong Kong residents and forbids Hong Kongers a say in their own governance,” Blinken said.
The announcement comes as US and Chinese officials prepare to meet in Alaska, with relations between the two countries at an all-time low because of the pandemic and trade wars under former President Donald Trump. Beijing has yet to respond to the latest sanctions, but analysts are already speculating that Washington’s provocative action ahead of the meeting could lead to its cancellation, according to CNN.