BEIJING (REUTERS) - China will impose sanctions on four people with links to US democracy promotion efforts, it said on Monday (Nov 30), over what it called interference in Hong Kong, following US strictures on four Chinese individuals.
Relations between China and the United States have deteriorated to their worst in decades during outgoing US President Donald Trump's four-year term, with disputes simmering over issues from trade and technology to Hong Kong and the coronavirus.
China's foreign ministry identified the four as John Knaus, senior director of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); Manpreet Anand, a regional director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI); Kelvin Sit, the NDI's programme director for Hong Kong and Crystal Rosario, a specialist at the NDI.
From Monday, they will be banned from entering China, a foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing.
"The US behaviour blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and grossly interferes in China's domestic affairs," the spokewoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Monday.
"It violates basic norms governing international relations, and China firmly rejects and condemns this."
She gave no further details of the four.
The National Democratic Institute is a US non-profit with more than three decades of support for democratic institutions and practices across the world, it says on its website.
On Nov 9, the US said it was imposing sanctions on four more officials accused of curbing freedoms in Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Edwina Lau, head of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, was among the four officials who will be barred from travelling to the US and whose US-based assets, if any, will be frozen.
The other three are Li Jiangzhou, the Deputy Director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security, Steve Li, the Senior Superintendent, and Deng Zhonghua, the Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
The move followed Hong Kong's expulsion of four opposition members from its legislature after Beijing gave city authorities new powers to curb dissent. It triggered mass resignations by Hong Kong's pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.
China denies limiting rights and freedoms in mainly autonomous Hong Kong, but the authorities there and in Beijing have moved to stifle dissent after anti-government protests flared in June last year and plunged the city into chaos.