China on Thursday announced tit-for-tat sanctions on five US individuals, including a former commerce secretary, after Washington punished several Chinese officials over Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong.

“These US individuals sanctioned are not allowed to enter the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, and their assets in China will be frozen. They’re also forbidden to trade with Chinese citizens and institutions,” Lijian Zhao, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, told a news conference in Beijing.

The sanctioned individuals include former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) President Carolyn Bartholomew, the Chinese daily Global Times reported.

The US State Department and US Treasury had last week announced fresh sanctions on five Chinese officials under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

The sanctioned Chinese officials were deputy directors of the Liaison Office of mainland China in Hong Kong. They were already facing other sanctions.

Washington accuses the Chinese officials of “undermining democracy in Hong Kong.”

Denouncing the sanctions, Zhao had earlier called the US move “illegal and invalid.”

“The Chinese side firmly opposes it and denounces it in the strongest terms,” Zhao had told a news conference.

Since October last year, 39 Chinese officials have been designated under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

Washington has also warned banks against any kind of transactions with the sanctioned individuals.

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