The Biden administration imposed sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials on Wednesday, one day before scheduled talks between Washington and Beijing’s top diplomats.
The officials were sanctioned under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was signed into law by President Trump last year. The sanctions target 14 members of China’s legislative council, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, as well as officials in various Hong Kong offices for their role in approving election reform measures for the former British colony.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the US will target any financial institutions that do business with the sanctioned individuals. “Foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed in today’s report are now subject to sanctions,” he said.
Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will meet with China’s top two diplomats in Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday. Slapping sanctions on Chinese officials the day before these sensitive talks is a clear signal that Washington is taking a hostile approach to the meeting.
Blinken visited Japan and South Korea this week along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. On Tuesday, the US and Japan released a joint statement on the meeting where they slammed China for what they called “coercion and destabilizing behavior toward others in the region.”
In South Korea on Wednesday, Blinken again took shots at Beijing. Speaking with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, Blinken accused China of using “coercion and aggression” in the region.