The US sanctioned an additional 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing's ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous city, including a decision to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system.
The sanctions were introduced under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA), which was passed by the United States last year in response to the imposition by Beijing of a new national security law in Hong Kong that bans secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
The law was imposed on the city following months of anti-government protests and Hong Kong authorities have arrested most of the prominent pro-democracy supporters and outspoken critics.
Among the 24 officials sanctioned by the US are Wang Chen, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's elite 25-member Politburo, as well as Tam Yiu-chung, the Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese parliament's standing committee, which drafted the national security law.
Several officers from Hong Kong's National Security Division were also sanctioned, including Li Kwai-wah, a senior superintendent, as well as Edwina Lau, a deputy commissioner of the Hong Kong police force and the head of the NSD.
“The release of today's update to the Hong Kong Autonomy Act report underscores our deep concern with the National People's Congress March 11 decision to unilaterally undermine Hong Kong's electoral system,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
“A stable, prosperous Hong Kong that respects human rights, freedoms, and political pluralism serves the interests of Hong Kong, mainland China, and the broader international community,” he added.