China sanctions US firms, officials in diplomatic spat

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Photo/Courtesy

Beijing, Monday

China is imposing sanctions on several US individuals and organisations in response to recent US sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong.

Those targeted include former US Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross.

The counter-sanctions come days before US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is due to visit China.

The US sanctions on Chinese officials in Hong Kong were because of their role in the security crackdown in the territory.

Washington also warned its business community of the growing risks of operating in Hong Kong.

China introduced the National Security Law in Hong Kong last year in response to massive pro-democracy protests. It criminalises secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that the recent US sanctions were designed to “groundlessly smear Hong Kong’s business environment” and “gravely violate international law and basic norms governing international relations”.

It said it would impose sanctions on seven US individuals and entities including Ross.

As commerce secretary under former President Donald Trump, Ross expanded the number of firms that could not trade with American firms without a prior license, including Chinese telecom giants like Huawei and ZTE.

Others sanctioned by China include Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director; Carolyn Bartholomew, chair of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission; and Adam King of the International Republican Institute.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US was “undeterred” by China’s retaliation.

“These actions are the latest examples of how Beijing punishes private citizens, companies and civil society organisations as a way to send political signals,” she said.

At the same time, The US has been told to stop “demonising” China, in their most high-level talks under President Biden.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said relations had reached a “stalemate” because the US saw China as an “imagined enemy”. 

He is in talks with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the most senior US official to visit China in months.

Biden has taken a hard-line approach towards China, especially on issues like human rights and sanctions.

Xie had said that the US wanted to “blame China for its own structural problems”, according to a statement by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  - BBC