US to Limit Visas for Multiple Hong Kong Officials

The United States announced on Friday its intention to impose new visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials involved in curtailing rights in the city, following the enactment of a new national security law. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that Beijing’s actions over the past year have eroded Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic freedoms promised under the “one country, two systems” framework.

Blinken highlighted the recent passing of “Article 23,” a national security law targeting various crimes, including treason and espionage, as part of the escalating crackdown on civil society and dissenting voices. The State Department’s response includes plans for visa restrictions on multiple Hong Kong officials, although specific details regarding the measures and targets were not provided.

This announcement coincides with Washington’s annual review of Hong Kong’s autonomy, reaffirming the decision not to treat Hong Kong under US laws as it did before the city’s handover from Britain to China in 1997. The US has previously imposed sanctions and visa restrictions on Hong Kong officials deemed responsible for undermining the city’s freedoms, with actions intensified following the suppression of the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

China condemned the US move, accusing it of interference in internal affairs and dismissing the autonomy review as baseless. Beijing imposed a comprehensive national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, with “Article 23” serving as an additional measure aimed at bolstering security. Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia closed its Hong Kong office due to safety concerns following the enactment of the new law, further underscoring the escalating tensions surrounding Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms.

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