US ‘taking steps’ to impose fresh restrictions on Hong Kong officials

NEW DELHI: The United States, on Friday, announced plans to impose fresh visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials responsible for cracking down on rights in the Chinese city following the enforcement of a new national security law.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that China’s actions have undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic rights.The recently enacted “Article 23” law targets offenses such as treason and espionage.
In response to “intensifying repression” and restrictions on “civil society, media, and dissenting voices,” the State Department “is taking steps to impose new visa restrictions on multiple Hong Kong officials,” the statement said. Blinken’s certification that Hong Kong does not meet the criteria for special treatment under US laws, as it did before 1997, highlights the deteriorating situation in the city.
The US has previously taken action against Hong Kong officials for violating rights and freedoms, including revoking the city’s special trade status in 2020 after the suppression of pro-democracy protests. The Hong Kong government dismissed the US report, labeling the sanctions as political manipulation. They claim that the new security law upholds fundamental rights.
China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong condemned the US move as interference in internal affairs and criticized the annual autonomy review as a farce. The national security law, imposed in 2020 to quell protests, was augmented by Article 23 to address security concerns. Article 23, which became effective last week, is an additional, homegrown national security law that officials said was needed to plug security loopholes.
Additionally, Radio Free Asia has closed its Hong Kong office due to safety concerns following the new law’s implementation. The impact of these developments on Hong Kong’s status and autonomy continues to be a point of contention between the US and China.
Separately on Friday, the US government-funded news service Radio Free Asia said it had closed its Hong Kong office after the enactment of the new law, citing concerns for the safety of its staff.
(With inputs from Agency)


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