China Vows Retaliation Against U.S. Hong Kong Sanctions

China's Foreign Ministry has vowed to escalate tit-for-tat sanctions trading with the U.S. over Beijing's political encroachment on the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong, following the approval of a new national security law criminalizing anti-government dissent in the former British colony.

U.S. lawmakers and President Donald Trump's administration have been passing legislation and introducing sanctions on Chinese individuals and companies believed to be undermining Hong Kong autonomy, prompting retaliation and protests from Beijing.

On Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. will revoke Hong Kong's special status under American law, which had afforded the territory preferential trading status. The U.S. will halt defense exports and restrict Hong Kong's access to high-technology products.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that the regime would not be dissuaded by U.S. action. Zhao also said Beijing would take further retaliatory measures in response, Reuters reported.

Zhao did not specify what these measures would look like. On Monday he announced that China would restrict visas for U.S. individuals with "egregious conduct" over Hong Kong.

That move came after the U.S. imposed sanctions on "current and former" Chinese Communist Party officials "believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy."

Zhao said China will not be cowed by criticism or U.S. sanctions, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported. Zhao said the legislation is a purely domestic matter in which no other nation has any right to interfere.

Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an order bringing the national security law into force on Tuesday. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress approved the legislation unanimously in Beijing earlier in the day.

Its approval prompted pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong to disband for fear of an imminent Chinese crackdown, though a protest is still planned for Wednesday according to the BBC.

The national security law will criminalize secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces—who Beijing has blamed for the past year of anti-government unrest. Opponents have warned that it will effectively stifle free speech and protest in Hong Kong, which until 1997 was a British colony.

Under the "one country, two systems" agreement in place since the handover, Hong Kong has enjoyed greater economic and political freedoms than mainland provinces. But pro-democracy activists, human rights groups and foreign governments have all warned that Beijing's new legislation will fatally undermine this status quo.

China, Hong Kong, US, national security, sanctions
Pro-democracy supporters hold a Hong Kong independence flag and shout slogans during a rally against the national security law as riot police secure an area in a shopping mall on June 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images/Getty