SEOUL — The United States punished 24 Chinese officials on Wednesday for undermining Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, acting days before the first scheduled meeting of senior Chinese and American diplomats since President Biden took office.
In diplomatic terms, the timing of the action was pointed and clearly intentional, continuing a testy start to relations between the Biden administration and China after a tumultuous four years under President Donald J. Trump.
The State Department announced that it would impose financial sanctions on a raft of officials, including a member of the Communist Party’s 25-member Politburo, Wang Chen, over an issue that Beijing has repeatedly said is an internal political matter. Earlier sanctions imposed by the Trump administration had barred the same officials from traveling to the United States and frozen their assets in the country.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who is visiting Japan and South Korea, said the move followed China’s latest effort to erode Hong Kong’s autonomy by rewriting the territory’s election laws in Beijing and ramming the changes through its pliant Communist Party-controlled legislature.
statement released midday in Asia, referring to the electoral overhaul.
He added that Britain had declared the election changes a violation of the agreement that returned sovereignty of the former British colony to the Chinese in 1997. Mr. Blinken and other administration officials have sought to highlight how China’s recent behavior on several issues is concerning not
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