After the United States imposed sanctions last week on certain Hong Kong officials who have supported Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has imposed sanctions on 11 American individuals.
The individuals whom China has sanctioned includes six members of Congress – Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey and Representative Chris Smith – as well as the heads of the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch.
The sanctions that the United States has imposed on the officials in Hong Kong froze any American assets that these individuals may own and barred Americans from doing business with them. However, there’s no clear explanation of what the sanctions actually entail, or if they’re more than just a symbolic gesture.
CNBC reports that a Chinese official did speak to the press about the matter:
“In response to that wrong U.S. behaviour, China has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing on Monday.
The individuals who are the subject of China’s sanctions have spoken out publicly about Beijing’s new laws that crack down on the freedoms that citizens of Hong Kong have enjoyed.
It’s not the first time some of the lawmakers have received sanctions from China. Rubio, Cruz, and Smith were the target of sanctions in July for calling out Beijing over its treatment of Uighur Muslims. The five human rights groups also received sanctions from China in December regarding Hong Kong.
These shots across the bow from both sides are just the latest skirmishes in what has clearly become a cold war between China and the United States. The situation in Hong Kong, the treatment of the Uighurs, and the COVID-19 pandemic have all contributed to the deterioration of relations between the two nations.
I can’t imagine that these sanctions will really do much to personally affect the names on the list, but I can imagine that the legislators will at least wear the sanctions as a badge of honor. I hope that each of these individuals keep on speaking out for freedom.