China will slap sanctions on four individuals working for US organizations who say they promote democracy abroad, the Foreign Ministry said, in response to what it called “blatant interference” in Hong Kong and Chinese affairs.

From Monday, the four – one of whom works for the National Endowment for Democracy, while the other three are with the National Democratic Institute – will be banned from entering the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and the autonomous region of Macao, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.  

“The US behavior blatantly interferes in Hong Kong affairs and grossly interferes in China’s domestic affairs,” she told a regular news briefing.

“It seriously violates basic norms governing international relations, and China firmly rejects and condemns this.” 

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She also warned the US to “stop meddling and not go further down the wrong path,” stressing that former British colony Hong Kong, which was returned in 1997, belongs to China. 

Sino-American relations have deteriorated following a number of disputes between the two powers over issues including coronavirus, Hong Kong and the Trump administration’s bid to purge the US of video-sharing app TikTok.  

This month, the US imposed sanctions on four Chinese individuals over Beijing’s enforcement of the National Security Law, which clamps down on those dissenting against the government, including protesters in Hong Kong.  

In response, Beijing expelled four Hong Kong opposition MPs from the legislature, which triggered the resignation en masse of their 15 colleagues. 

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Earlier on Monday it emerged that the US was set to blacklist leading Chinese chipmaker SMIC and national oil and gas firm CNOOC, in an attempt to block their access to American investment, according to reports.  

“We hope the US will provide an open, fair, and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese businesses working in the US,” Chunying said in response to the reports.

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