US slaps new visa curbs on Hong Kong officials

The statement did not specify which officials would be targeted by these new restrictions…reports Asian Lite News

The United States announced on Friday its intention to introduce fresh visa restrictions on numerous officials from Hong Kong in response to the ongoing suppression of rights and freedoms in the territory controlled by China.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement noting China’s consistent infringement upon Hong Kong’s guaranteed autonomy, democratic structures, and fundamental liberties over the past year. This includes the recent implementation of a new national security law referred to as Article 23.

“Over the past year, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has continued to take actions against Hong Kong’s promised high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and rights and freedoms. This includes Hong Kong authorities’ recent enactment of legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, which has broad and vaguely defined provisions regarding ‘sedition’,” ‘state secrets,’ and interactions with foreign entities,” said Blinken in an official statement.

“These provisions could both be used to eliminate dissent inside Hong Kong and applied outside of its borders as part of the PRC’s ongoing campaign of transnational repression,” the statement added.

“In response, the Department of State is announcing that it is taking steps to impose new visa restrictions on multiple Hong Kong officials responsible for the intensifying crackdown on rights and freedoms, pursuant to Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” Blinken also said.

The statement did not specify which officials would be targeted by these new restrictions. This announcement follows a previous US bill in November, which called for sanctions against 49 Hong Kong officials, judges, and prosecutors involved in national security cases. Hong Kong officials condemned this bill, accusing US legislators of grandstanding and attempting to intimidate the city.

Among the officials named in the previous Hong Kong Sanctions Act were Secretary for Justice Paul Lam, Police Chief Raymond Siu, and several judges including Andrew Cheung, Andrew Chan, Johnny Chan, Alex Lee, Esther Toh, and Amanda Woodcock.

The United States previously imposed visa restrictions and other sanctions on Hong Kong officials accused of undermining freedoms, and has as announced an end to the special economic treatment that Hong Kong had long enjoyed under US law. (ANI)

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