On July 23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China announced in a statement that it had taken countermeasures in response to the publication by the US authorities of the Hong Kong Business Advisory, a recommendation addressed to economic operators to warn them of new risks arising from the conduct of economic activities in Hong Kong, following Beijing’s adoption of the National Security Law.
For the first time, the countermeasures – unspecified – are adopted under the Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, the law that entered into force on 10 June which defines the regulatory framework that authorises the Beijing government to intervene in the event of violations of international law, basic rules of international relations, injury to Chinese national interests, discriminatory practices against Chinese citizens/entities and interference with its internal affairs.
The Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law authorises the State Council to impose (I) restrictions on movement, (II) asset freezes, (III) restrictions on trade with Chinese individuals and entities and (IV) “other necessary measures”, the latter expression, which leaves the executive ample room for manoeuvre.
Among the names of the six designated U.S. individuals are the former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross, the head of the Congressional Commission for the Evaluation of Economic and Security Relations between the US and China Carolyn Bartholomew and some senior NGOs, including Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson. The Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) is also included in the list of affected persons.
The statement concludes that any activity aimed at interfering with the management of Hong Kong, China’s Special Administration Region, will be “futile as the effort of an ant trying to shake a tree.”