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China says US sanctions on officials over Hong Kong's security clampdown violate international laws

China says US sanctions on officials over Hong Kong's security clampdown violate international laws

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin attends a news conference in Beijing on Monday, Nov 9, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Tingshu Wang)

BEIJING: China said on Tuesday (Nov 10) that United States sanctions on four officials over a national security clampdown in Hong Kong are a serious violation of international laws and represent blatant interference in the city's affairs.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin denounced the sanctions in a daily news briefing.

"The relevant behaviour by the US side blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and seriously violates international laws and basic norms governing international relations," he said.

"China is firmly opposed to it and strongly condemns it."

Wang urged the US to withdraw the sanctions, and reinforced China's position on the special administrative region.

"Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong, and Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs. No external forces should interfere in it," he said.

"We urge the US side to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs, immediately withdraw its so-called sanctions and not go further down the wrong path."

The US on Monday said it was imposing sanctions on four more officials in Hong Kong's governing and security establishment over their alleged role in crushing dissent in the former British colony.

The US Treasury and State Department identified the four as Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office; Edwina Lau, deputy commissioner of police in Hong Kong; and Li Jiangzhou and Li Kwai-wah, two officials at the newly established national security office in Hong Kong.

READ: Lam says next US president should not interfere in Hong Kong

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions were for their role in implementing Hong Kong's new national security law. He said they would be barred from travelling to the United States, and any US-related assets would be blocked.

"These actions underscore US resolve to hold accountable key figures that are actively eviscerating the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy," he said in a statement.

None of the four could be reached immediately for comment.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the sanctions were "absolutely unacceptable, a blatant - and I would use the word 'barbaric' - interference".

"We are not going to be intimidated," Cheung told reporters, speaking at a regular news conference held on Tuesday morning Hong Kong time.

Washington has called China's enactment of a new national security law in Hong Kong this year an unacceptable breach of China's "one country, two systems" commitment to what was once China's freest city.

The designations are the first sanctions imposed on China since Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in last week's US election. Biden is due to take office on Jan 20. Trump so far has refused to concede defeat.

READ: Top Chinese official praises Lam for stabilising Hong Kong

In actions heralding a more authoritarian era for Hong Kong, China opened a new national security office in July, a week after imposing the new national security legislation to punish what it called crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Last month, the US State Department warned international financial institutions doing business with individuals deemed responsible for China's crackdown in Hong Kong that they could soon face tough sanctions.

Washington put sanctions on Carrie Lam, the territory's current and former police chiefs and other top officials in August for what it said was their role in curtailing freedoms in a crackdown on the territory's pro-democracy movement.

Relations between the US and China, the world's two biggest economies, plunged to the lowest point in decades in the run-up to last week's US election. The two sides are at odds on a wide range of issues including China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and its treatment of Hong Kong.

Source: Reuters/kg


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