China on Thursday imposed sanctions on US officials from the administrative department, congress, and non-governmental organizations, in response to Washington’s sanctions on Chinese officials, the state-run media said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, while announcing the sanctions, said it is covering US officials in the administrative department, Congress, and NGO representatives along with their direct family members who have done wrong on Hong Kong affairs, Global Times reported.

The Chinese government also cancelled visa-free access for US diplomats who hold valid passports into China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao.

On Monday, Washington imposed sanctions on 14 individuals — all vice chairpersons of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee — over Beijing’s clampdown in Hong Kong after China effectively disqualified pro-democracy lawmakers from the semi-autonomous territory’s legislature last month.

The individuals and their immediate family were also barred from traveling to the US, and their properties which are subject to the US jurisdiction were frozen. US individuals are also barred from conducting business with them.

On Wednesday, the Standing Committee of the NPC also condemned the US for its decision and termed it “brutal and despicable sanctions” on their top legislature officials, which was the highest-level warning to the US since 1999.

“The US grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Hong Kong affairs, which is despicable. It is a typical case of political bullying and double standards. We strongly condemn it and firmly oppose it,” state-run daily quoted the spokesperson as saying.

* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid.

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