Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zheng Zeguang on Tuesday summoned Robert W. Forden, charge d'affaires of the United States embassy in Beijing, to protest over sanctions on leaders of China's top legislature enacted by the US.
During the meeting, Zheng pointed out that the US has long been meddling in the affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region with various pretexts. There is ample evidence to prove that the US is the most prominent manipulator of Hong Kong's recent turmoil, he said.
The US has never cared about Hong Kong's democracy, human rights and autonomy as it claimed, and its real goal is to destabilize Hong Kong and undermine China's stability and development, Zheng said.
The protest came a day after the US announced sanctions on 14 vice-chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, citing the committee's decision to enact the National Security Law for Hong Kong and another decision that led to the disqualification of four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers.
Since the enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong, the US has announced sanctions on 15 officials from the Chinese mainland and the Hong Kong SAR, including the SAR's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her key aides.
On Monday, the US House of Representatives, following similar moves by the United Kingdom and Canada, passed a bill to make it easier for Hong Kong residents to live in the US by granting them "temporary protected status" for five years.
Zheng stressed that these acts by the US will only spur resentment among the Chinese people and make China stand firm in implementing the National Security Law for Hong Kong, as well as fight back against anti-China forces that aim to stir up trouble in Hong Kong.
At a news conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged the US to immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs by initiating so-called sanctions and vowed that China will take countermeasures to safeguard its own interests.
The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council also added its voice to the condemnation on Tuesday.
The sanctions clearly exposed US politicians' intention to contain China by destabilizing Hong Kong and undermining the "one country, two systems" principle, the office's spokesperson said.
These measures will only strengthen the Chinese people's will to safeguard national security, and make Hong Kong people more clearly see US hegemony, the statement reads.
In a separate statement, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region exposed the double standards adopted by the US with its sanctions, pointing out that the US has disqualified over 20 congressmen in its history for violating rules. The US has also made similar requirements by asking all of its congressmen to pledge allegiance to the US Constitution, the office noted.
The Foreign Ministry's commissioner's office in the HKSAR said that by pushing ahead with the Hong Kong-related bill, some US politicians have openly provided a safe haven for criminal suspects in Hong Kong, under the pretext of human rights and freedoms.
It is a mockery of the international principle of the rule of law and an assault on Hong Kong's judicial independence, in flagrant breach of international justice and order, said the office.
Any external interference will only strengthen China's resolve to defend national sovereignty and security, any act of hegemony will further unite the Chinese people and any threat or sanction will end up backfiring, according to the office.
Also on Tuesday, the Hong Kong government said the US sanctions were an act of "political manipulation and double standards", adding that the US government has clearly ignored the constitutional order of the HKSAR and the facts related to the NPC Standing Committee's decisions.
The government spokesman said the National People's Congress is the highest organ of State power in China and the NPC and its Standing Committee have the constitutional power and duty to enact national laws and apply them to Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law.
Political scientist Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies think tank, said the latest US moves will have little effect and are more like political gestures driven by Washington's growing dissatisfaction with the situation in Hong Kong.
Lau noted that with the implementation of the National Security Law, the room for US to manipulate and stir up trouble in Hong Kong has been gradually limited and the US has lost the ability to use Hong Kong as a "base" to subvert China.