US threatens new visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials

On February 6, 2023, in Hong Kong, China, a supporter scuffled with police at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts building, where 47 pro-democracy activists were charged with conspiracy to subvert state power under the national security law. — Reuters

The United States announced on Friday that it would impose new visa restrictions on a number of Hong Kong officials over a crackdown on rights and freedoms in the city.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has previously said China has been pursuing the autonomy, democratic institutions and rights promised to Hong Kong, including recently enacting a new national security law, known as Section 23, Reuters reported.

“In response, the U.S. State Department announced that it is taking steps to impose new visa restrictions on a number of Hong Kong officials responsible for increasing the repression of rights and freedoms,” Blinken said.

The statement did not specify which officials would be targeted.

In November, Hong Kong criticized a U.S. bill that would impose sanctions on 49 officials, judges and prosecutors involved in national security cases, accusing lawmakers of grandstanding and intimidation.

Officials named in the “Hong Kong Sanctions Law” include Secretary for Justice Lam Mo-po, Commissioner of Police Siu Wai-man, and judges Zhang Jiajun, Chen Jiaqiang, Chen Junni, Li Lixiong, Tou Yisi and Amanda Woodcock.

The United States has in the past imposed visa restrictions and other sanctions on Hong Kong officials accused of undermining freedoms and announced the end of special economic treatment that Hong Kong has long enjoyed under U.S. law.

It also warned that foreign financial institutions doing business with them would be subject to sanctions.

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By Ali Raza

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