China has halted visa-free vacationer journey for US diplomats to Hong Kong in retaliation for sanctions from Washington, which accuses Beijing of violating democratic processes within the territory.

Diplomats stationed in Hong Kong have work visas however US diplomatic passport holders not based mostly within the territory till now have been in a position to journey there for holidays with out visas.

Asserting the measure on Thursday, China’s international ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying warned the US to “cease meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s inside politics, cease strolling additional and additional alongside this harmful and mistaken path”.

The journey curbs can even apply to the autonomous area of Macau, the previous Portuguese colony neighbouring Hong Kong that may be a playing centre with vital funding from US on line casino teams.

China and the US have been engaged in tit-for-tat sanctions in opposition to every others’ officers since Beijing abruptly imposed a brand new nationwide safety regulation on Hong Kong in June. Critics mentioned the regulation rolled again freedoms promised to the territory on its handover to China from the UK in 1997.

The US sanctions have hit some Hong Kong officers onerous given the worldwide attain of the dollar-based American monetary system. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief government, mentioned she had no entry to banking providers because of the sanctions and was being pressured to maintain “piles of cash” at house.

Along with the journey curbs, Ms Hua mentioned China would implement unspecified “countermeasures” in opposition to these “US authorities officers, lawmakers, and NGO employees and their households” who’ve “displayed malicious behaviour and bear main duty on the Hong Kong query”.

“It’s very uncommon to see such actions from China,” mentioned Wu Xinbo, dean of the institute of worldwide research at Fudan College, saying he couldn’t recall any related sanctions on personnel from different international locations.

Final week, Hong Kong jailed three younger pro-democracy activists on expenses associated to protests final 12 months that concerned thousands and thousands of the area’s 7m folks. Joshua Wong, the 24-year-old face of the pro-democracy motion, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half months in jail.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 14 high-level Chinese language officers for allegedly violating democratic processes in Hong Kong, whose autonomy from the mainland was enshrined in a joint declaration signed by London and Beijing on the handover.

The US focused members of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the Nationwide Folks’s Congress Standing Committee, in the latest sanctions. The 14 officers and their fast members of the family are topic to asset freezes, in addition to being barred from travelling to the US.

Most US residents are at present unable to enter Hong Kong due to Covid restrictions. In September, the US authorities issued a journey advisory warning in opposition to journey to China, together with Hong Kong, saying that “the PRC authorities arbitrarily enforces native legal guidelines, together with by finishing up arbitrary and wrongful detentions”.

Extra reporting by Nian Liu in Beijing and Nicolle Liu in Hong Kong


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