On Monday, the US slapped sanctions on 14 Chinese officials who are members of Beijing’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), over Hong Kong’s national security law. The individuals were targeted with asset-freezes and travel bans.
The officials chair the NPC’s standing committee, a board that oversees the legislature. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the officials for their alleged role in crafting and implementing Hong Kong’s national security law.
The sanctions are seen as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to ramp up the pressure on Beijing in its final days. The incoming Biden administration is also expected to be tough on China and is unlikely to reverse Trump’s sanctions.
When news of the sanctions first broke, China raised its objections. Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said Beijing would take the necessary measures to counter the sanctions and accused the US of meddling in China’s internal affairs.
US intervention in the Hong Kong protests played a part in Beijing’s decision to pass the national security law. That intervention included funding pro-democracy groups through non-profits, hosting protest leaders in Washington who pleaded for US intervention before Congress, and passing legislation that paved the way for sanctions.