According to three sources familiar with the matter at hand, Washington is preparing to impose sanctions on at least 12 Chinese officials over their alleged role in disqualifying elected legislators in Hong Kong.
The move is likely to be formally announced later today.
Neither the White House nor the State Department immediately responded to requests for comments.
According to two sources, potential sanctions could be imposed on officials of China’s parliament, members of the CCP or National People’s Congress; the economic measure could see assets being frozen. Officials from Hong Kong, as well as those from the mainland could be sanctioned.
Two sources have cautioned that a formal could be delayed until later this week.
Last month, Beijing-backed Hong Kong’s government expelled four elected opposition lawmakers following the Chinese parliament giving city authorities new powers to curb dissent. The move triggered mass resignations by pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.
According to the Five Eyes intelligence group, the move appeared to be part of a campaign to silence critics. They have called on Beijing to reverse course.
In November, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien stated, the expulsion of elected lawmakers in Hong Kong showed that the “One Country, Two Systems” formula which China had promised to maintain after Britain handed over the territory to Beijing in 1997, has been broken supporting views that China cannot be trusted.
In October, the U.S. State Department warned international financial institutions doing business with individuals deemed responsible for China’s crackdown in the Asian financial hub that they could soon face tough sanctions.
In November, the U.S. State Department as well as the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on four more Chinese officials in Hong Kong’s government and security establishment, blocking any U.S. assets they may have and barring them from travel to the United States.
It is to be seen how the incoming Biden Administration, seen as being soft on China, handles the challenges posed by Beijing. Biden has promised to take a tougher line than Trump over human rights violations trampled by China, including in its Xinjiang province where it runs modern concentration camps housing more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims.