China said Thursday it will impose sanctions on US officials who have “performed badly” over Hong Kong issues, in response to restrictions slapped on Chinese officials this week over Beijing’s harsh clampdown on the city.
The financial hub was rocked by pro-democracy protests last year that were largely halted by a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing, drawing criticism over eroding rights from countries including the US.
On Monday, the US said it was freezing any US assets and barring travel to the United States for 14 vice-chairs of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which spearheaded the tough new law.
In response, China would impose “sanctions on US executive officials, congressional personnel, non-governmental organization personnel … who have performed badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing Thursday.
Their immediate family members would also be affected, Hua said.
She said the government had also decided to cancel “visa exemption treatment” for temporary visits to Hong Kong and Macau by US diplomatic passport holders.
The moves were “in view of the United States using Hong Kong-related issues to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs,” she said, calling for the US to “stop going further down a wrong and dangerous path.”
No details about when the sanctions would become active or the people they would affect were given.
The United States has already slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam.
China’s rubber-stamp parliament pushed through the draconian new security law in June.
Critics say it decimates the freedoms once enjoyed in Hong Kong, enshrined in an agreement made before the 1997 handover from British colonial rule back to China.
China says the law and prosecution of critics is needed to restore stability after last year’s huge and often violent protests.