Beijing Sanctions 4 US Nonprofit Workers Over Hong Kong

November 30, 2020 Updated: November 30, 2020

The Chinese regime will sanction four people who work for U.S. nonprofits that promote democracy, in apparent retaliation for recent U.S. moves to punish Chinese officials for rights abuses.

The decision, announced on Nov. 30, comes weeks after the Trump administration leveled sanctions on four Chinese officials over their roles in implementing Beijing’s draconian national security law in Hong Kong.

China’s foreign ministry said the four U.S. individuals would be banned from entering China beginning on Monday. They were identified as John Knaus, senior director of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED); Manpreet Anand, a regional director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI); Kelvin Sit, the NDI’s program director for Hong Kong; and Crystal Rosario, a specialist at NDI.

“The U.S. behavior blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and grossly interferes in China’s domestic affairs,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a regular news briefing Monday.

No further details were provided regarding the four people.

The NED is a nonprofit established by Congress in 1983. It provides grants to groups working to build democratic institutions and spread democratic ballots around the world. The NDI, an affiliate of the NED, is a Washington-based nonprofit that supports democratic institutions and practices globally, according to its website.

In August, United States first sanctioned 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including the city’s leader Carrie Lam, for eroding freedoms in the city and violating a promise to preserve the territory’s autonomy and civil liberties upon its transfer of sovereignty from British to Chinese rule in 1997. The Chinese regime, in retaliation, announced sanctions on 11 Americans, including 5 lawmakers known for being critical of the regime’s rights abuses.

The NDI noted that the sanctions were similar to those slapped in August against the organization and its president, Derek Mitchell.

“These sanctions may be yet another effort to silence NDI, but we will continue our work to support democratic institutions, promote constructive citizen engagement, and empower democratic voices, wherever they are,” Mitchell said in a statement Monday.

The nonprofit added that it has “worked legally and transparently in Hong Kong with diverse partners from across the political spectrum in support of the democratic rights promised in the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration,” referring to the city’s mini-constitution and the treaty governing the terms of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to the Chinese regime.

The NED did not immediately return a request for comment.

Hong Kong authorities have cracked down on voices critical of the Chinese regime after Beijing imposed a national security law in July, which gave city authorities broad new powers to curb dissent. Since the law took effect, pro-democracy slogans have been banned, pro-democracy activists and media figures have been arrested, and police have raided the newsroom of a major local newspaper.

Earlier this month, the city expelled four pro-democracy legislators after Beijing gave the local government powers to remove lawmakers if they’re deemed to threaten national security. The move prompted mass resignations by the city’s pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

The article was updated to include a statement from NDI.

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