China official in HK blasts US business advisory and sanctions

Latest US moves described as 'unreasonable bullying', and with 'despicable intention'

HONG KONG • China's Foreign Ministry branch in Hong Kong has said the United States' new sanctions on Chinese officials and its updated business advisory on the city are "extremely rude" and "extremely unreasonable" bullying acts with "despicable intention".

The US imposed sanctions on Friday on seven Chinese officials over Beijing's crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong, Washington's latest effort to hold China accountable for what it calls an erosion of rule of law in the former British colony.

President Joe Biden's administration also issued an advisory on Friday to warn US businesses about risks to their operations and activities in Hong Kong after China's imposition of a new national security law there last year.

In a statement late on Friday, a spokesman for the Commissioner of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong strongly condemned Washington's actions, saying they were blatant interference in Hong Kong and China's internal affairs.

"(The US') worries about Hong Kong's business environment are fake; its attempt to destroy Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, endanger China's national security, and hamper China's development is real," the statement said.

It added that the implementation of the security law has reinforced Hong Kong's position as an international financial and business hub, and US sanctions and pressures are no more than "waste paper" that will not stop China from growing.

In similar statements yesterday, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and Hong Kong Liaison Office condemned Mr Biden's advisory that said China's push to exert more control over the financial hub threatens the rule of law and endangers employees and data.

The seven officials sanctioned by the US are from China's liaison office in Hong Kong.

In response to the US singling out Hong Kong's national security law, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office spokesman said the law has provided a sound social environment for the city's economic development.

It cited higher initial public offering fund-raising and bank deposits as signs of investor confidence over the past year. The comments follow an earlier rebuke from the Hong Kong government, which said the US warning is based on "totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering".

"The main victims of this latest fallout will sadly be those US businesses and US citizens who have taken Hong Kong as their home," a Hong Kong government spokesman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, as US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman prepares for a tour of Asia this week, a department official said the country was open to high-level talks with China on their tense relationship.

The State Department said on Thursday that Ms Sherman will travel, starting today, to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia, but did not mention a stop in China that had been anticipated in foreign policy circles and reported in some media.

When asked about a potential stop in China, a State Department official said the US was ready to engage in a "practical, substantive and direct manner".

"We have been and will continue to explore opportunities to engage PRC officials, including at senior levels, as part of our effort to advance US interests and responsibly manage the relationship," the official said on condition of anonymity, using the acronym for the People's Republic of China.

"As in all travel abroad, we make announcements only once - and if - we determine that a visit has the potential to be substantive and constructive for our purposes," the official said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 18, 2021, with the headline 'China official in HK blasts US business advisory and sanctions'. Subscribe