Hong Kong authorities and members of the community have expressed strong indignation over new US so-called sanctions against six central government and local figures, calling the move "insane, shameless and despicable".
They voiced over the weekend their determination to carry out their "honorable duty" of maintaining the city's prosperity and stability in accordance with the law.
Their remarks came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Friday a new round of sanctions against people who enacted and enforce the National Security Law for Hong Kong, following his complaints about the arrest of 55 people on suspicion of subversion who had organized and participated in unauthorized primaries for the now-delayed legislative elections.
On the list were two senior Chinese officials involved with Hong Kong affairs, three police officers serving in the national security unit and Hong Kong member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Tam Yiu-chung. The sanctions will freeze any assets they may have in the US and prohibit them from obtaining services or trading with businesses or individuals doing business in the US.
Stressing that he would not be deterred by the "wrongful bullying", Tam said on Saturday that being targeted by the foreign forces demonstrated the importance of what he has done. He would continue to fulfill his duty in the nation's top legislature to safeguard national security and the stability of Hong Kong society.
A spokesman for the Hong Kong Police Force, speaking on behalf of the three national security unit police officials, said that the "unfair "sanctions showed no regard for the rule of law and were leveled in order to interfere in the police's law enforcement duties and the city's judicial independence.
Police would continue to perform their duties fearlessly, uphold the security of the country and the city, and strictly enforce the law, the spokesman said.
This was the fourth round of US so-called sanctions on the local and central government after 11 officials, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, were singled out in August, four more in November and another 14 in December.
A spokesperson for the HKSAR government condemned with "extreme anger" the US government's repeated intimidation via financial means.
"It makes people wonder whether the security law has touched on sore spots of foreign countries and foreign forces," the spokesperson said, adding that the SAR government will fully support the central government in adopting appropriate countermeasures.
Fulfilling legal duties
A spokesperson for the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said officials of the central and HKSAR governments have been fulfilling their legal duties to staunchly uphold the rule of law and protect the overall interests and fundamental well-being of Hong Kong residents.
The spokesperson spoke of the double standards of some in the US for vilifying China's just efforts to prohibit acts that endanger national security on its own territory through legislation, when the US itself has a rigorous legal system to protect its own national security at home.
In an opinion piece in The Washington Post on Friday, Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung wrote that an editorial by the Post on Jan 7 was "wide of the mark" in criticizing the arrests.
"We reject any suggestion that people with certain political backgrounds should be immune from legal action if they commit unlawful acts," said Cheung, adding that the city's core value of the rule of law and judicial independence should be zealously safeguarded.
On Sunday, Senior Counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah questioned on social media what the US motives for its actions could be when it knew they wouldn't work.
The sanctions, he said, are part of Washington's ongoing efforts "to subvert another state power" and to "egg on" people to "use unlawful means to cause social instability … and ultimately deprive a region of steady development and make it lag behind".