DHARAMSALA, 11 Aug: China has announced sanctions against 11 US politicians and heads of organizations, terming it ”a reciprocal retaliation against US sanctions.”
“In response to the US’ wrong behaviours, China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a daily news briefing on Monday announcing the unspecified sanctions with immediate effect.
Those sanctioned include Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey; Congressman Chris Smith; Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth; National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman; Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House; National Democratic Institute President Derek Mitchell and International Republican Institute President Daniel Twining.
“Those lawmakers and heads of so-called NGOs on the sanctioned list are notorious in China and many developing countries. It can be said that the Chinese side has chosen the right targets and made a very strong response,” read a commentary on the Chinese state-run media, Global Times.
The US Senators who were sanctioned by the Chinese regime have openly critical of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive tactics in Hong Kong. Some of them have taken to Twitter to respond to the sanction.
“Last month China banned me. Today they sanctioned me. I don’t want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don’t like me,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio.
“Retaliate all you want. I’m not backing down,” Senator Josh Hawley tweeted.
“If China thinks my opposition to its communist tyranny to date warrants these sanctions, I have two words for them: just wait,” Senator Tom Cotton wrote on his twitter handle.
Additionally, under the national security law imposed by Beijing, authorities from Hong Kong have also arrested the island’s prominent democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai along with his two sons and four senior staff as well as former student activist Agnes Chow Ting and two others, all allegedly for “suspected collusion with foreign forces.”
Jimmy Lai, the founder of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, a tabloid-style newspaper was detained in the most high-profile police operation under national security law since the imposition of the security legislation while authorities also raided his newspaper offices.
“The arrests, and the raid on the newsroom, are a direct assault on Hong Kong’s press freedom and signal a dark new phase in the erosion of the city’s global reputation,” the Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong said in a statement.
The Trump administration on Friday imposed economic sanctions on exactly the same number of officials from Hong Kong and mainland including Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam for “curtailing political freedom in Hong Kong.”
Late last month, in yet another tit-for-tat move, China ordered the closure of the US consulate in the south-western city of Chengdu after the US ordered the closure of its consulate in Huston.
The US-China relationship has been deteriorating from many fronts, with the ongoing trade war, China originated COVID-19 pandemic as well as China’s Human rights violations and the imposition of the controversial new security law in Hong Kong among others.