US warns of more China sanctions over Hong Kong moves

On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on four more officials accused of curbing freedoms in Hong Kong while vowing accountability over China's clampdown in the city.

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The United States on Wednesday warned of further sanctions against China, which it said “flagrantly violated” Hong Kong’s autonomy after the ousting of four pro-democracy lawmakers.

“Beijing’s recent actions disqualifying pro-democracy legislators from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council leave no doubt that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has flagrantly violated its international commitments,” said Robert O’Brien, US national security adviser.

He added that the United States would continue “to identify and sanction those responsible for extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom.”

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On Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on four more officials accused of curbing freedoms in Hong Kong while vowing accountability over China’s clampdown in the city.

Edwina Lau, head of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, was among the officials who will be barred from traveling to the United States and whose US-based assets, if any, will be frozen.

Wednesday’s statement from the US national security adviser in Donald Trump’s outgoing administration came in response to the ousting of four of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers by the city’s pro-Beijing authorities.

Hong Kong’s other pro-democracy lawmakers reacted by saying they would all quit in protest, reducing the semi-autonomous city’s once-feisty legislature to a gathering of Chinese loyalists.

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Due to technical changes, the Senate will need to vote again and a senator said it could happen on Thursday. “The Chinese regime just thinks that they can act with impunity and repressing the spirit of democracy,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the House passage.

“If we refuse to speak out on human rights in China because of commercial interests, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world,” said Washington’s top elected Democrat, long a vocal proponent of human rights in China.

Read more: Hong Kong move ‘destabilising’: US cautions China

President Donald Trump has not said if he will sign the bill but one of his allies briefly held up the Senate version, seeking changes. Trump publicly hesitated last year before signing another rights bill on Hong Kong which also lays out sanctions against Chinese officials for infringing on the city’s autonomy.

Unlike the previous act, the new legislation would make sanctions mandatory, limiting Trump’s ability to waive them. In a crucial pressure point, it would also slap sanctions on banks that conduct transactions with violators.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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