Blinken said the new sanctions underscore “our deep concern with the National People’s Congress March 11 decision to unilaterally undermine Hong Kong’s electoral system.”
“This action further undermines the high degree of autonomy promised to people in Hong Kong and denies Hong Kongers a voice in their own governance, a move that the United Kingdom has declared to be a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Blinken said.
“A stable, prosperous Hong Kong that respects human rights, freedoms, and political pluralism serves the interests of Hong Kong, mainland China, and the broader international community. The United States stands united with our allies and partners in speaking out for the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong, and we will respond when the PRC fails to meet its obligations,” he added.
In response to those comments, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday the exchanges between the US and Japan should help increase mutual understanding and trust among countries in the region and “not target or undermine the interests of any third party.”
The new sanctions could draw a far more forceful response from Beijing, which has been seeking a tentative rapprochement with US President Joe Biden’s administration, albeit one largely on China’s terms.
A major step toward improving relations was due to take place in Alaska on Thursday, when Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan meet with China’s top two diplomats, Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi.
Beijing has yet to respond to the new sanctions, but there was immediate speculation among observers that this aggressive move by Washington ahead of the meeting could result in its cancellation.
Last week, Zhao, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, urged the US to “abandon the Cold War and zero-sum mentality, respect China’s sovereignty, security and development interests,” and to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” language which is usually used to refer to Washington pressuring Beijing over Hong Kong.