Seven Chinese officials were sanctioned by the United States over China's clampdown on democracy in Hong Kong, part of U.S. President Joe Biden's administration's latest effort to hold China liable for what it calls an "erosion of rule of law" in the financial hub.
On Saturday, a Hong Kong government representative said the U.S. has repeatedly attempted to "slander" China's implementation of a security law in Hong Kong over the last year.
"The U.S. administration's latest attempt to issue an 'advisory'...based on totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering about the situation in Hong Kong only serves to prove yet again its hypocrisy and double standards," The Straits Times quoted the representative as saying in a statement.
The U.S. warned American companies about the risks -- legal, financial and otherwise -- of doing business in Hong Kong in the face of a shifting legal landscape in the former British colony.
All seven of the officials sanctioned by the U.S. are deputy directors in the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.
Luo Huining, the director, was sanctioned in August, the South China Morning Post said.
The sanctions imposed asset freezes and other penalties against the officials. China's Hong Kong liaison office represents China's interests in Hong Kong.
The PRC must not suppress rights and freedoms. Today’s sanctions and @StateDept, @USTreasury, @DHSgov, and @CommerceGov's issuance of the Business Advisory show we'll continue to speak out for Hong Kong and promote accountability for Beijing’s broken promises and repressive acts. — Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 16, 2021
According to U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken, the Chinese officials over the past year had "systematically undermined" Hong Kong's democratic institutions and arrested thousands for disagreeing with government policies.
Critics say China imposed that law in 2020 to crack down on pro-democracy activists and free press.
"The situation in Hong Kong is continuing to deteriorate," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in quotes by Voice of America News.
China said it will impose "strong counteractions," depending on the measures of the U.S., Chinese foreign ministry representative Zhao Lijian said.
The U.S. has already carried out sanctions on other senior officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, for their roles in curtailing political freedoms.