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The United States intends to impose visa restrictions on officials from Hong Kong

US announces visa restrictions in response to Hong Kong crackdown (Via James Castle/Getty Images)

In response to increased crackdowns on rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, the United States announced plans on Friday to impose new visa restrictions on multiple Hong Kong officials.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement emphasized China’s ongoing actions against Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions, through the controversial national security law, Article 23.

While specific officials targeted by the visa restrictions were not named, past U.S. measures have included sanctions against individuals undermining freedoms and changes to Hong Kong’s special economic status under U.S. law. Financial institutions doing business with these officials could also face sanctions.

Under the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act, the State Department must annually report to Congress on Hong Kong’s conditions.

Blinken reiterated that Hong Kong no longer receives the same treatment under U.S. laws as it did before China took over in 1997.

This year’s report highlights increased repression by Chinese and Hong Kong authorities on civil society, media, and dissenting voices. Blinken pointed out actions like offering rewards and issuing arrest warrants for pro-democracy activists living outside Hong Kong.

The joint statement calls for sanctions and global scrutiny of Hong Kong (Via Jeremy Smith/Getty Images)

Earlier the same day, Radio Free Asia, funded by the U.S., announced it was closing its Hong Kong bureau due to oncerns about staff safety following the implementation of the national security law.

The law has raised fears and led many pro-democracy figures to leave, with activists facing arrest or choosing to live in exile.

A statement from 145 community and advocacy groups condemned the security law and called for sanctions on involved officials, as well as a review of Hong Kong’s Economic & Trade Offices worldwide.

Hong Kong’s promised high level of autonomy and freedoms under the “one country, two systems” principle is increasingly under threat, with recent crackdowns on dissent, media, and civil society groups showing erosion over the years.

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