U.S. to Sanction Chinese Officials and Warn International Businesses Over Beijing’s Crackdown on Democracy in Hong Kong

The United States is preparing to impose sanctions on Friday (July 16) on a number of Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and warned international companies operating there that the situation is worsening.

The financial sanctions will target seven officials at China’s Hong Kong Liaison Office, the official platform that projects Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong, sources said.

A separate updated business advisory issued by the State Department will highlight U.S. government concerns about the impact of Hong Kong’s national security laws on international companies. Critics say Beijing implemented the law last year to promote a crackdown on democracy activists and press freedom.

“Let me talk about the business advisory,” President Joe Biden said when asked about it at a news conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Biden said the situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating and that the Chinese government is not keeping its promises on how it will handle Hong Kong.

The moves are sure to anger Beijing and mark the latest effort by the Biden administration to hold Beijing accountable for the erosion of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Both sources, who asked not to be named, said the measures in Hong Kong remain subject to change. One of the sources said the White House is also reviewing a possible executive order on Hong Kong immigration, but remains unsure whether it will be implemented.

The U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment on the issue after media reports this week of possible new sanctions.

Asked about the issue Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “We know that a healthy business community depends on the rule of law, and the national security laws as they apply to Hong Kong continue to undermine the rule of law.”

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is set to visit Japan, South Korea and Mongolia next week. The State Department announced her visit without mentioning any stops in China, which had been anticipated in the foreign policy community and reported in some media outlets.

The State Department on Tuesday stepped up warnings to businesses about the growing risks of establishing supply chain and investment ties with China’s Xinjiang region, citing forced labor and human rights abuses there.