Beijing's top representative office in Hong Kong yesterday said that sanctions imposed by Washington on senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials were "clowning actions" that would not frighten or intimidate Chinese people.
Separately, the Hong Kong government said the sanctions were "shameless and despicable" and represented "blatant and barbaric" interference in China's internal affairs.
"We will not be intimidated," a government spokesman said.
The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Luo Huining, the head of China's Liaison Office, as well as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and other current and former officials that Washington accuses of curtailing political freedoms in the global financial hub.
The move accelerates rapidly deteriorating Sino-US ties, more than a month after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong that drew condemnation from Western governments and sent a chill across the city.
"The unscrupulous intentions of the US politicians to support the anti-China chaos in Hong Kong have been revealed, and their clowning actions are really ridiculous," the Liaison Office said in a statement. "Intimidation and threats cannot frighten the Chinese people."
Luo, the most senior mainland political official based in the Chinese-controlled territory, said US sanctions on him indicated he was doing what he "should be doing for my country and Hong Kong", according to the statement.
Luo has oversight over the implementation of the contentious security law that allows mainland security agents to be officially based in China's freest city for the first time.
As well as Luo and Lam, the sanctions target Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo; John Lee, Hong Kong's secretary of security, and Teresa Cheng, the justice secretary. Xia Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, was also named.
The sanctions freeze any US assets of the officials, prohibit them from carrying out business in the country and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
Beijing-backed leader Lam has previously told local media she has no assets in the United States.
The US sanctions come a week after Hong Kong postponed a Sept. 6 election to the Chinese-ruled city's legislature by a year, citing a spike in coronavirus cases, prompting democracy activists to question whether the pandemic was the real reason.
Washington said the election delay was the latest example of Beijing undermining "the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong's prosperity."