The Hong Kong government has hit back at the United States over the latest round of sanctions imposed on 24 more senior Chinese and Hong Kong figures, calling them “hostile acts of hegemony.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam meeting the press on Monday. File Photo: gov.hk.

In a statement, a government spokesperson said on Wednesday it was “extremely disappointed” that “instead of rectifying the blatant mistake made by its predecessor, [the current US administration under President Joe Biden] has chosen to pursue the same wrongful path of disregarding international norms and interfering in HKSAR affairs.”

Under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, the US State Department is required to identify Chinese and Hong Kong officials who play a role in eroding the city’s freedoms. The Department’s report added 24 new names, including top officials in Beijing and senior national security police officers in Hong Kong, although they have already been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, or through executive orders from former US President Donald Trump.

Carrie Lam, Eric Chan, John Lee, Teresa Cheng, Zhang Xiaoming, Zheng Yanxiong, Stephen Lo, Luo Huining, Chris Tang, Erick Tsang and Xia Baolong, were among those sanctioned by the US Treasury over issues in Hong Kong. File photo: HKFP compiled.

“No country would allow its governance power to be vested in people who are not patriotic and who will endanger the interests of the country,” the spokesperson said, referring to the decision by China’s National People’s Congress to overhaul the city’s electoral system and stress the importance of “patriots rule Hong Kong.”

On March 30, Beijing passed legislation to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as it makes it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.

Joe Biden. Photo: The White House/Adam Schultz, via Flickr.

The US government’s accusation that the “311 Decision” will erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms is “totally groundless,” the spokesperson said. “The US ‘sanctions’ will not create an obligation for financial institutions under Hong Kong law.”

“To countries that consider national security to be of paramount importance on their own soil yet threaten officials of other countries for acting to defend their territory, the adoption of double standards is evident.”

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.