The United States will enact sanctions against a number of Chinese officials for the use of political intimidation and legislative encroachment against the democratic process in Hong Kong.
As many as twelve Chinese officials could find their American assets frozen and their visas revoked, according to Reuters.
In a statement released on Friday, Mike Pompeo denounced Chinese leadership and invoked his power as Secretary of State in section 212(a)(3)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to place sanctions against members from the Chinese parliament and Communist Party.
"Today, I am exercising my authority… to impose visa restrictions on PRC and CCP officials, or individuals active in United Front Work Department activities, who have engaged in the use or threat of physical violence, theft and release of private information, espionage, sabotage, or malicious interference in domestic political affairs, academic freedom, personal privacy, or business activity," Pompeo said.
The sanctions come after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the National People's Congress (NCP) enacted anti-opposition legislation last month, effectively crushing legislative support for an independent and democratic Hong-Kong.
Since the British relinquished control of the city in 1997, Hong Kong's politics have been divided between nationalists who would like the city to return to Chinese political control and pro-democracy advocates who support the city’s independence from the rest of the nation.
That struggle all but ended mid-November when Beijing made supporting the city's independence, refusing to acknowledge China’s sovereignty, or otherwise threatening national security all disqualifying criteria in elections.
It wasn't long before four pro-democracy Hong Kong representatives found themselves abruptly cut out of the legislative process. It's a decision that received international criticism.
In its annual report on relations between the two countries, analysis put out by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) stated that China would only seek to expand its control in the coming years.
"Beijing seeks to use its growing power to transform the international order, ultimately legitimizing its repressive governance system; expanding its economic, security, and political interests and restoring China to what it views as its rightful place in the world," the USCC said.
Beijing released a statement on Monday in response to Pompeo's announcement. Chinese representatives warned the United States to avoid going down the wrong path and interfering with Chinese domestic affairs.
Chinese foreign ministry has said it will take firm countermeasures to protect its sovereignty against American influence.