China has imposed sanctions on seven top US officials and organisations in retaliation for measures taken by Washington against Chinese figures in Hong Kong, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.
Beijing's blacklist included former US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, the head of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), Carolyn Bartholomew, the non-governmental Hong Kong Democratic Council, and Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch.
Earlier this month, Washington pledged support for the pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong and imposed sanctions on seven Chinese government officials. It also warned companies that doing business in Hong Kong is increasingly risky.
In imposing its new penalties, China deployed a law it passed recently to combat foreign sanctions. Precise details of of the sanctions were not outlined.
The move came ahead of a scheduled visit to China on Sunday by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. She is set to become the highest-ranking US official to have visited China since Joe Biden entered the White House.
During her two-day visit, Sherman will meet with Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng. Because of the pandemic and security concerns, the meeting will be held in the city of Tianjin, 130km east of Beijing.
Ahead of the meetings, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman demanded that the US stop interfering in China's internal affairs and vilifying Beijing.
The US had no right to lecture China, and Washington was trying to provoke a confrontation and slow China's development, the spokesman said.
Australian Associated Press