July 15 (UPI) — In the latest escalation in tensions between Washington and Beijing, China on Wednesday vowed to sanction U.S. institutions and politicians in retaliation for President Donald Trump signing legislation to punish Chinese officials for infringing upon Hong Kong’s autonomy.
In a statement on Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act hours earlier into law as interfering in its internal affairs, promising to take “necessary action to impose sanctions against related U.S. institutions and individuals.”
Specifics of the sanctions were not mentioned, but China said attempts by the United States to block the implementation of a widely condemned national security law would fail.
The president signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law Tuesday that would impose sanctions on businesses and individuals that assisted China in implementing a security law that criminalizes secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism and working with foreign agencies to undermine the national security of China in Hong Kong.
“This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom,” Trump said.
Trump also announced the signing of an executive order that would end preferential treatment for Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he said. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies.”
Tensions between the adversaries have climbed in recent months with the United States passing legislation to condemn and punish China over its human rights record.
However, the situation has accelerated since June 30 when Beijing imposed the national security law that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described as the “death knell” for the former British colony’s autonomy from China, vowing the United States “will not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong into its authoritarian maw.”
This month the United States has declared efforts to deny China access to U.S. data, rejected Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea and imposed sanctions against top Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, prompting retaliatory measures from Beijing.