China sanctions US lawmakers over Hong Kong, slams top American official’s Taiwan visit
China on Monday slammed the ongoing visit of a top US official to Taiwan and sanctioned 11 American lawmakers and individuals in a tit-for-tat retaliation against Washington sanctioning 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials last week over the passing of the controversial security law in the former British colony.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian criticised the US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s ongoing visit to Taiwan, the highest-level meeting between Washington and Taipei. China claims Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy, is a breakaway province.
Speaking at the regular ministry briefing on Monday, Zhao said the US side should stop official interactions and contact of all kinds as well as the upgrading of substantive relations with the island.
Azar met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen Monday, a high-profile visit that comes in the backdrop of a severe low in US-China relations. The evident friction in the China’s ties with Washington has likely exacerbated by Azar’s visit, making him the highest-level US official to visit the self-governing island since formal diplomatic relations were severed in 1979 in deference to China.
Separately, Zhao announced sanctions on 11 US lawmakers and individuals, including Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, as countermeasures against earlier US sanctions on Chinese central government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) officials following the passing of the national security law for Hong Kong. Zhai said China has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues
“China resolutely opposes and strongly condemns such blatant interference in Hong Kong affairs - China’s internal affairs - as it seriously violated international law and basic principles of international relations,” Zhao added.
“Since the return of Hong Kong (from British rule), the “one country, two systems” principle has been recognised around the world as a success and Hong Kong residents enjoy democratic rights and all sorts of freedoms in line with the law. That is a fact that no unbiased person can deny, Zhao said.
“But the principle also faces challenges during its implementation, that is to say, national security risks in HKSAR,” Zhao said.
Besides Rubio and Cruz, Beijing sanctioned Josh Hawley, Tom Cotton, Pat Toomey and Congressman Chris Smith.
The heads of NGOs namely Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute, Daniel Twining, president of the International Republican Institute, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, and Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, were also sanctioned.
“I want to reiterate that Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong and Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs that no external forces can interfere in. China urges the US to have a clear understanding of the situation, correct mistakes, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs,” Zhao said.