US on the back foot over China sanctions

Business | Agencies and Stella Zhai 14 Jul 2020

The United States is weighing restricted options to deal with China over its recent moves in Hong Kong, the Wall Street Journal reported, as tensions between Washington and Beijing heat up.

Steps against Hong Kong's financial system risk hurting US, Western and Hong Kong companies and consumers, according to the report, citing US officials and analysts.

Measures like more targeted sanctions against Chinese officials and trade moves against products made in Hong Kong would have little impact on Beijing's integration of the city into the mainland's political and security system, the WSJ added.

Trump administration officials had discussed Hong Kong plans in a White House meeting last Thursday, the WSJ reported, according to people familiar with the gathering. Officials will regroup early this week and may announce sanctions or other measures, one person added.

Washington last week imposed sanctions on the autonomous region of Xinjiang's Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and three other officials.

This was immediately followed by China's sanctions against four US officials: Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Ambassador Sam Brownback, Representative Chris Smith and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which was announced yesterday.

"Xinjiang is China's internal affairs and the US has no right to interfere," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. "We urge the US to immediately withdraw its wrong decisions, stop interfering in China's internal affairs or undermining China's interests. We will make further reactions based on the development of the situation."

White House adviser Peter Navarro also said he expects US President Donald Trump to take "strong action" against Chinese-owned social media apps TikTok and WeChat for engaging in "information warfare" against the US.

The Trump administration is "just getting started" with the two apps, and he wouldn't rule out the US banning them even if TikTok is sold to an American buyer, Navarro said earlier on Fox News.

The social media platform has exited Hong Kong after the operator, as well as its overseas peers Facebook and Google, refused to cooperate with the Hong Kong government to release user data. Local users can still use the mainland version, Douyin.

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