Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

US to Impose Restrictions on Hong Kong Officials

Sat 30 Mar 2024 | 04:31 PM
Israa Farhan

The United States has announced plans to impose new visa restrictions on officials from Hong Kong involved in human rights violations, stated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday.

Blinken expressed that over the past year, Beijing continued to take actions against promised wide-ranging autonomy, democratic institutions, and rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.

This crackdown includes the enactment of Article 23, a national security law targeting individuals committing crimes such as treason, sedition, espionage, and theft of state secrets.

In response to the intensified repression and restrictions on civil society, media, and dissenting voices, the State Department is taking steps to impose new visa restrictions on many officials in Hong Kong, according to the statement.

Blinken did not specify the actions to be taken or the targeted officials.

This announcement follows Washington's annual review of the state of autonomy in Hong Kong, promised by Beijing when Britain handed over the city in 1997.

Blinken emphasized that this year reaffirmed once again that Hong Kong does not deserve to be treated under US law in the same way these laws applied to Hong Kong before July 1, 1997.

Previously, Washington imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on Hong Kong officials accused of undermining the rights and freedoms that distinguish the city from the rest of China.

In 2020, the US also revoked the city's special trade status, responding to the suppression of large-scale pro-democracy protests, occasionally accompanied by violence.

The Hong Kong government rejected the US report, considering the sanctions and visa restrictions as a despicable political maneuver to intimidate officials protecting national security.

In a lengthy statement, the government insisted that the city still enjoys autonomy, and the new security law protects fundamental rights and freedoms.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Hong Kong office strongly condemned Washington's recent decision, considering it a distortion of the new national security law and interference in China's internal affairs.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry's commissioner's office said the annual review of Hong Kong's autonomy was an incredible farce and should go to the dustbin of history.

Beijing enacted a comprehensive national security law in Hong Kong in 2020 to suppress protests. Article 23, which came into effect last week, is a new local law on national security officials say is necessary to plug security loopholes.