China Sanctions 11 U.S. Officials In Apparent Retaliation

( Eleven Americans are set to receive sanctions from China in retaliation for the U.S. imposing similar measures on Chinese officials last Friday.

Included in the list of sanctioned officials are Senators Tom Cotton, Pat Toomey, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Congressman Chris Smith; Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; Michael Abamowitz, president of the Freedom House; and Kenneth Roth, executive director of the Human Rights Watch.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced these sanctions but didn’t specify exactly what they would mean. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the organization, said Monday:

“In response to the U.S.’ wrong behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues.”

In July, China announced sanctions on U.S. officials, including both Cruz and Rubio. That move was seen as symbolic as a retaliation for the U.S. wanting to punish China for its treatment of ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.

In January, Roth was denied entry into Hong Kong.

In December, China said it would sanction rights groups such as the HRW, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Freedom House after President Donald Trump signed into law his support for the protesters in Hong Kong.

On Friday, the U.S. announced it was going to sanction 11 Chinese officials as well as their allies located in Hong Kong for their roles in curtailing political freedoms in what is the former British colony.

Those officials include Carrie Lam, the chief executive; Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council; and the commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, Chris Tang.

In its official statement announcing the sanctions, the U.S. Treasury Department said Lam is “directly responsible for implementing Biejing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also emphasized that America “stands with the people of Hong Kong, and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy.”

Earlier this summer, China passed a new security law for Hong Kong that many people have said will be “the end of Hong Kong,” as an autonomous territory. The security law will make it easier for Beijing to punish protesters and brings it more under control of China’s communist government.

The law, in part, criminalizes acts of secession, or breaking away from the country; subversion, or undermining the power or authority of China’s central government; terrorism, or using violence/intimidation against people; and collusion with any external or foreign forces.

Many people believe these new laws will curtail freedom of speech and protests in Hong Kong forever. China, meanwhile, says it will bring stability to the territory that the British handed back over to China 23 years ago.

The problem with the new law, though, isn’t just the acts that are now considered crimes, but what it constitutes as well as the maximum penalties. Those new crimes listed above can be punishable by a term of life in prison, for example.