0149 GMT September 28, 2020
Separately, the Hong Kong government said the sanctions were “shameless and despicable” and represented “blatant and barbaric” interference in China’s internal affairs, Reuters reported.
“We will not be intimidated,” a government spokesman said.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Luo Huining, the head of Hong Kong Liaison Office, as well as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and other current and former officials that Washington accuses of curtailing political freedoms in the global financial hub.
The move accelerates rapidly deteriorating Sino-US ties, more than a month after Beijing imposed national security legislation on Hong Kong that drew condemnation from Western governments.
“The unscrupulous intentions of the US politicians to support the anti-China chaos in Hong Kong have been revealed, and their clowning actions are really ridiculous,” the Liaison Office said in a statement. “Intimidation and threats cannot frighten the Chinese people.”
Luo, the most senior mainland political official based in the Chinese-controlled territory, said US sanctions on him indicated he was doing what he “should be doing for my country and Hong Kong”, according to the statement.
Luo has oversight over the implementation of the security law that allows mainland security agents to be officially based in Hong Kong for the first time.
As well as Luo and Lam, the sanctions target Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo; John Lee, Hong Kong’s secretary of security, and Teresa Cheng, the justice secretary.
Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, was also named.
Police chief Tang told local media on Saturday that maintaining the security of the country and Hong Kong was his responsibility, and foreign sanctions were meaningless.
The sanctions freeze any US assets of the officials, prohibit them from carrying out business in the country and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
Beijing-backed leader Lam has previously told local media she has no assets in the United States.
Hong Kong financial regulators moved to calm market fears on Saturday, as banks in the city grappled with the implications of the sanctions. The markets watchdog said it was not aware of any aspect of the sanctions that would affect how financial firms carry out their normal operations in the city.
Washington said the “draconian” security law had undermined its autonomy and set “the groundwork for censorship of any individuals or outlets that are deemed unfriendly to China.”
The US sanctions came a week after Hong Kong postponed a Sept. 6 election to the Chinese-ruled city’s legislature by a year, citing a spike in coronavirus cases, prompting protestors to question whether the pandemic was the real reason.
Washington said the election delay was the latest example of Beijing undermining “the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong’s prosperity.”
The security legislation targets what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Beijing and the Hong Kong government have said the law will not affect rights and freedoms, and that it is needed to plug security loopholes. They said it will only target a small minority of “troublemakers.”