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China Hits U.S. Officials With Sanctions, Avoids Top Trump Aides

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 8/11/2020 Bloomberg News
a man wearing a suit and tie: Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, wears a protective mask while arriving at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Lawmakers will receive an update today on implementation of the $2.2 trillion virus rescue package passed by Congress in March. © Bloomberg Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, wears a protective mask while arriving at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Lawmakers will receive an update today on implementation of the $2.2 trillion virus rescue package passed by Congress in March.

(Bloomberg) -- China said it will sanction 11 Americans in retaliation for similar measures imposed by the U.S. on Friday, but the list doesn’t include any members of the Trump administration.

Those sanctioned include Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Pat Toomey; Congressman Chris Smith; Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth; National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman; and Michael Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Marco Rubio wearing a suit and tie: Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, pauses while speaking to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The Senate cleared the second major bill responding to the coronavirus pandemic, with lawmakers rushing to follow up with an additional economic rescue package that President Donald Trump's administration estimates will cost $1.3 trillion. © Bloomberg Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, pauses while speaking to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The Senate cleared the second major bill responding to the coronavirus pandemic, with lawmakers rushing to follow up with an additional economic rescue package that President Donald Trump's administration estimates will cost $1.3 trillion.

“In response to the U.S.’s wrong behaviors, China has decided to impose sanctions on those individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues,” Zhao said. He did not specify what the sanctions would entail.

China last month announced separate sanctions against U.S. officials including Rubio and Cruz, in what was seen as a mostly symbolic attempt to retaliate over America’s steps to punish Beijing for its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Roth was refused entry to Hong Kong in January, after months of pro-democracy protests rocked the city.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 2.1% on Tuesday morning, with casinos and Tencent Holdings Ltd. among the top performers. The gauge had slumped for three sessions, ending Monday at the lowest since June 29.

Asked about China’s latest sanctions on Monday, President Donald Trump said “we’ve already responded in many ways.”

“We’re talking a lot about China, we shouldn’t have been talking about China -- we did a phase one deal and it was a wonderful deal and all of the sudden it means very little in the overall import of things,” he said at a briefing. “They should’ve never allowed what happened to the world, including us.”

Beijing in December had pledged sanctions on some rights organizations hit on Monday including HRW, Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy, after President signed a law supporting Hong Kong’s protesters.

The U.S. said Friday that it was placing sanctions on 11 Chinese officials and their allies in Hong Kong, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam, over their roles in curtailing political freedoms in the former British colony.

The others included Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, which has come under global criticism for tactics used against pro-democracy protesters.

Read more on Hong Kong tensions:
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Lam was sanctioned because she is “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in announcing the sanctions.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to say whether Trump administration is planning to respond to China’s sanctions.

“Instead of taking meaningful actions such as immediately repealing the national security law, and stopping the systematic repression of Uighurs, the Chinese Communist Party opted to respond with this symbolic and ineffectual action,” McEnany said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin -- who has helped lead months of protracted trade talks with China -- said the U.S. “stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy.”

(Updates with market moves.)

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