US sanctions 24 China, Hong Kong officials ahead of talks - GulfToday

US sanctions 24 China, Hong Kong officials ahead of talks


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Gulf Today Report

Just ahead of talks aimed at reducing tensions between the two countries the US sanctioned an additional 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing’s ongoing crackdown on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.

According to The Associated Press the sanctions follow changes to Hong Kong's electoral law approved by China’s ceremonial legislature last week giving a pro-Beijing committee power to appoint more of Hong Kong’s lawmakers.


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The US announcement was made during a visit by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Loyd Austin to Japan and South Korea, both of which are wary of China's growing economic, military and political heft.

With screens showing Xi Jinping, delegates attend the opening session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. AP

The move reduces the proportion of those directly elected and ensures that only those determined by to be truly loyal to Beijing are allowed to run for office - effectively shutting opposition figures out of the political process.

While in Tokyo on Tuesday, the two officials delivered a joint statement with their Japanese counterparts expressing concern about Beijing’s human rights violations in the western Xinjiang region against ethnic minorities and China’s determination to alter the status of a group of uninhabited islets administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. The two arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for talks.

On Thursday, Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s are scheduled to hold their first face-to-face meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the foreign affairs chief of the Chinese Communist Party, Yang Jiechi, in Anchorage, Alaska.

The US has said that will be an initial opportunity to address intense disagreements over trade and human rights in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

While President Joe Biden has sought to ease the harsh tone his predecessor took with China, his administration appears committed to taking a tough line on those issues.

China has rejected all criticism of its policies toward Hong Kong, accusing foreign governments of interfering and saying political tightening was necessary following months of anti-government protests in 2019.

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