China imposes sanctions on US officials, institutions under foreign law

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China, on July 23, imposed sanctions on seven American individuals and entities under foreign sanctions law in response to US penalties imposed on Hong Kong officials over democratic actions in the semi-autonomous region.

The action comes in response to a recent US warning to companies about the risks of doing business in Hong Kong. Last week, the United States imposed Hong Kong-related sanctions on seven individuals and warned companies about the dangers in the region. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said, “the US has coined the so-called ‘Hong Kong Business Advisory’ to unnecessarily defame Hong Kong’s business environment, and illegally imposed sanctions on several officials of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong SAR.”

The list of 7 American individuals and entities includes former US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Lewis Ross; US- Carolyn Bartholomew, chairman of the China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC); Jonathan Stivers, former staff director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC); Doeun Kim at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; Adam Joseph King, Senior Program Manager, International Republican Institute (IRI); Sophie Richardson, director of China at Human Rights Watch and the Hong Kong Democratic Council.

Earlier, a notice from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) indicated that seven Chinese officials based in Hong Kong had been added to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Citizens. The punitive action reportedly targeted individuals from the Hong Kong Liaison Office. The LOCPG is China’s leading platform to demonstrate its influence in Hong Kong. It has repeatedly undermined the high degree of autonomy promised for Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

It was the second time this year that China imposed sanctions on officials working under former President Donald Trump, who took a tough stance on Beijing and confronted it over trade, trade practices, human rights and other issues. The Biden administration called that move “unproductive and cynical.”

The White House says Biden has sought to rally allies and partners to help counter China’s increasingly escalating economic and foreign policies. But US officials say Sherman’s visit to China over the weekend, where she is due to meet with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, is an effort to ensure that rivalries between the two powers do not escalate into conflict.

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