U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29, 2024.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The United States is set to impose new visa restrictions on some Hong Kong officials after the city fast-tracked into law domestic security legislation that Washington says muzzles open discussion in the global finance hub.

The State Department will take the steps against multiple Hong Kong officials responsible for the intensifying crackdown on rights and freedoms, according to a statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken Friday. It did not specify a time frame or name the officials targeted.

The announcement follows the findings of the department’s annual Hong Kong Policy Act Report to Congress, which “catalogs the intensifying repression and ongoing crackdown by PRC and Hong Kong authorities on civil society, media, and dissenting voices,” said Blinken, referring to China’s formal name, People’s Republic of China.

“We are committed to continuing to work with Congress and the international community to stand with the people in Hong Kong in calling for the restoration of Hong Kongers’ protected rights and freedoms, the immediate release of those unjustly detained or imprisoned under the National Security Law, and respect for the rule of law,” Blinken said in the statement.

The Hong Kong government said that the curbs are “a despicable political move” and the Hong Kong Policy Act Report is “obviously compiled for the political purpose of protecting US dominance.” The city’s administration “sneers” at the visa limits and “is not afraid of any intimidation,” it said in a statement Saturday.

The Chinese embassy in the U.S. said on its official WeChat account on Saturday that Washington should “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.”

The U.S. move marks the latest overseas response to Hong Kong’s passing of Article 23 earlier this month. It completed a two-decade campaign to pass local security legislation, with broadly defined state secrets offenses and new crimes such as treason and insurrection carrying life sentences. Foreign governments have warned that the law could further erode Hong Kong’s freedom and rule of law.

“Hong Kong’s reputation as an international city was founded on respect for the rule of law,” U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron said in a statement earlier this month. “This new law, rushed through the legislative process, will have far-reaching implications.”

The legislation “could exacerbate the erosion of fundamental freedoms” in Hong Kong, the European Union said.

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution mandates the city must enact its own security legislation, but for decades that mission was thwarted by fierce public opposition.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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