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US sanctions 14 Chinese officials for crackdown on Hong Kong opposition

US sanctions 14 Chinese officials for crackdown on Hong Kong opposition
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The Trump administration has blacklisted over a dozen Chinese officials in response to Beijing’s crackdown on opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoTrump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same House Republican calls on Biden to boycott Beijing Olympics MORE announced on Monday.

The sanctions target 14 vice chairs of China’s National People’s Congress, Beijing’s top legislature, labeling them as specially designated nationals. The designation bars travel to the U.S. for them and their immediate family.

The sanctions also freeze any assets they hold in the U.S. and blocks American persons from interacting with the individuals and their assets.

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Pompeo said the individuals were targeted for “developing, adopting, or implementing” Beijing’s National Security Law, which criminalized in Hong Kong vague charges of dissent with strict punishments. Western countries and human rights groups have criticized the law as stifling legitimate opposition and violating the territory’s autonomy.

The U.S. sanctions follow Beijing’s move last month to disqualify four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers, which triggered the resignation of 15 others, and drew criticism from the U.S., other allied nations and human rights groups over China’s push to silence dissent.

“Beijing’s unrelenting assault against Hong Kong’s democratic processes has gutted its Legislative Council, rendering the body a rubber stamp devoid of meaningful opposition,” Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.

“Our actions today underscore that the United States will continue to work with our allies and partners to hold Beijing accountable for undermining Hong Kong’s promised autonomy. The United States again urges Beijing to abide by its international commitments and to heed the voices of many countries, which have condemned its actions.”

The latest moves by the Trump administration are part of a pressure campaign against China that appears to be increasing ahead of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHoyer: House will vote on COVID-19 relief bill Friday Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Powell pushes back on GOP inflation fears MORE’s inauguration on Jan. 20.

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The latest sanctions follow moves in recent days by the State Department imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials it says are in response to threatening intimidation tactics against Americans and the termination of Chinese programs the agency alleges are propaganda tools masquerading as cultural exchanges.

There is growing consensus on both sides of the aisle in Congress that the U.S needs to take a stronger stance confronting China.

Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFormer Trump officials eye bids for political office Grenell congratulates Buttigieg on becoming second openly gay Cabinet member Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official MORE warned last week that China is the top national security threat to the U.S., writing in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that Beijing intends to “dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and politically.”