The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on 14 Chinese officials, the U.S. Treasury's website showed, in new designations linked to Beijing’s disqualification of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.
The move, first reported by Reuters overnight, targeted individuals who are all members of China's National People's Congress, as Republican President Donald Trump’s administration keeps up pressure on Beijing in his final weeks in office.
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden takes over on Jan. 20.
Stock markets remained under pressure after the news. Asian shares fell over the Reuters story overnight, as investors fretted over fresh Sino-U.S. tensions, which offset bets over more stimulus in Europe and the United States.
Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government last month expelled four opposition members from its legislature after China’s parliament gave city authorities new powers to curb dissent. The move triggered mass resignations by anti-Beijing opposition lawmakers in the former British colony.
It also raised further alarm in the West. The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group – comprised of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – said last month the move appeared to be part of a campaign to silence critics and called on Beijing to reverse course.