In response to the January 6 crackdown on pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the United States was sanctioning six Chinese and Hong Kong officials for their roles in the clampdown.
Under Hong Kong's National Security Law (NSL), which the U.S. calls "draconian," more than 50 people were arrested, including 13 former Legislative Council members, an American lawyer and a former law professor, who were released on bail.
"This action by Hong Kong authorities is yet another stark example of Hong Kong's freedoms and democratic processes being fundamentally undermined by the PRC [People's Republic of China]," Pompeo said in a statement.
The six sanctioned include Frederic Choi, director of the national security division of the Hong Kong police, and Sun Qingye, a deputy to Zheng Yanxiong, who heads a new national security office in Hong Kong. Also named were pro-Beijing legislator Tam Yiu-chung and You Quan of China's United Front Work Department.
"The United States calls on the PRC and Hong Kong authorities to immediately release individuals who have been targeted under the NSL or other laws simply for exercising rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law and Joint Declaration, and to dismiss the charges against them," Pompeo said, adding it would continue to hold those responsible for eroding "Hong Kong's freedoms and democratic processes."
Sanctioned officials would be banned from traveling to the U.S. or accessing the U.S. financial system.
Last Saturday, the U.S. lifted restrictions on contacts between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. The move angered China, which views the island as a breakaway province.