Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday announced sanctions against two dozen Chinese and Hong Kong officials for undermining the territory’s semi-autonomy from Beijing, just days before a crucial summit between the United States and China.
The sanctions represent an update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, passed last June under the Trump administration, which serves to penalize individuals, banks and other entities that enable China’s strict new national security law for Hong Kong.
The State Department announcement also comes one week after China’s ceremonial legislature approved a plan to reduce the number of Hong Kong lawmakers elected by the territory’s voters. In a statement, Blinken said the new spate of U.S. sanctions “underscores our deep concern” with the action in the National People’s Congress.
“The United States stands united with our allies and partners in speaking out for the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, and we will respond when the [People’s Republic of China] fails to meet its obligations,” he said.
Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin finished a series of meetings in Japan on Tuesday and arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for the next leg of their international trip, meant to help shore up U.S. alliances in Asia at the outset of the Biden administration.
On Thursday, Blinken will join National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and other administration officials in Alaska for a round of talks with China’s ruling Communist Party — the first known high-level diplomatic encounter between Washington and Beijing since Biden assumed office in January.