US hits China with Hong Kong sanctions, OKs Taiwan arms sale

Politics

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media prior to meeting with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah at the State Department, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 in Washington. (Saul Loeb/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration on Monday approved a new major arms sale to Taiwan and slapped new sanctions on Chinese officials over the crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.

The moves are sure to draw a firm rebuke from China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has rejected Hong Kong-related measures as interference in its internal affairs.

The State Department said it had approved a $280 million sale to Taiwan of advanced military communications equipment. Earlier, it said it had hit 14 members of the Chinese parliament’s standing committee with sanctions that come as the administration steps up punitive measures against China as it winds down its time in office.

In a statement, the department said it had approved the communications sale to “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region” and to “contribute to the recipient’s goal to modernize its military communication’s capability in support of their mission and operational needs.”

The approval is just the latest in a series of such steps the Trump administration has taken to boost Taiwan’s defenses over the course of the last several months.

Also Monday, the State and Treasury departments said they were acting against the 14 members of standing committee to freeze any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar them and their families from traveling to the United States.

Just last week, the administration further restricted visa access for Chinese Communist Party officials as part of the campaign which has also seen penalties imposed on China for its actions in western Xinjiang province, Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

“Beijing’s unrelenting assault against Hong Kong’s democratic processes has gutted its Legislative Council, rendering the body a rubber stamp devoid of meaningful opposition,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that repeated condemnations of China’s violations of the agreement with Britain that returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997.

“These actions demonstrate once again Beijing’s complete disregard for its international commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty,” he said.

The 14 officials are Wang Chen, Cao Jianming, Zhang Chunxian, Shen Yueyue, Ji Bingxuan, Arken Imirbaki, Wan Exiang, Chen Du, Wang Dongming, Padma Choling, Ding Zhongli, Hao Mingjin, Cai Dafeng, and Wu Weihua.

“Our actions today underscore that the United States will continue to work with our allies and partners to hold Beijing accountable for undermining Hong Kong’s promised autonomy,” Pompeo said. “The United States again urges Beijing to abide by its international commitments and to heed the voices of many countries, which have condemned its actions.”

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