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US sanctions 24 officials ahead of talks with Chinese in Alaska

US sanctions 24 officials ahead of talks with Chinese in Alaska
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The Biden administration is sanctioning 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials ahead of talks with senior officials from Beijing.

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenGreene apologizes for comparing vaccine rules to Holocaust Detainee fates hang over Biden meeting with Putin ICC relations with US undergoing 'reset' with Biden, prosecutor says MORE announced on Wednesday that the sanctions stemmed from China’s decision to “unilaterally undermine Hong Kong’s election system.”

“This action further undermines the high degree of autonomy promised to people in Hong Kong and denies Hong Kongers a voice in their own governance,” Blinken added.

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China's ceremonial legislature last week backed a measure to have a pro-Beijing committee appoint the state’s lawmakers, and draw back the number that are directly elected by voters. The move would effectively shut out opposition from the political process.

Blinken said on Wednesday that the U.S. is imposing sanctions on 14 vice chairs of the National People’s Congressional Committee, as well as officials in the Hong Kong Police Force’s National Security Division, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and the Office for Safeguarding National Security. 

Foreign financial institutions that conduct “significant transactions” with the individuals listed in the report will also be sanctioned.

The Associated Press reported that Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zaho Lijian told reporters that the sanctions “fully exposes the U.S. side’s sinister intention to interfere in China’s internal affairs, disrupt Hong Kong and obstruct China’s stability and development.” 

“China will take strong measures as appropriate to resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Zhao further said, according to the AP.

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Blinken and national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanNATO members agree to new cyber defense policy NATO tackling climate change for first time Biden emphasizes 'critically important' NATO alliance upon arrival at summit MORE are scheduled to meet with China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and Yang Jiech, a member of Politburo, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Biden participates in NATO summit | White House backs 2002 AUMF repeal | Top general says no plans for airstrikes to help Afghan forces after withdrawal Top general: US won't support Afghan forces with airstrikes after withdrawal Biden congratulates newly-formed Israeli government MORE on Tuesday met with Japanese officials, with Blinken warning that the U.S. would push back on any “coercion and aggression to systemically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, [and actions] abusing human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet."

--Updated at 1:37 p.m.