In a tit-for-tat measure, Beijing has sanctioned six US nationals and one entity, on a list that includes a former secretary of commerce, in response to recent restrictions placed on China over Hong Kong.

The sanctions list includes Wilbur Ross, who served as Commerce Secretary during then-President Donald Trump’s trade war against Beijing. Last year, Ross called China “the principal military and economic threat” in Asia.

Other blacklisted Americans include US-China Economic and Security Review Commission chief Carolyn Bartholomew, former Staff Director of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Jonathan Stivers, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs researcher DoYun Kim, as well as Adam King, a senior program manager at the International Republican Institute, and Sophie Richardson, China Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

China’s response has also blacklisted the Hong Kong Democratic Council (HKDC), a Washington-based group that supports anti-Beijing protests in China’s self-governing city.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson explained that the sanctions have been applied in direct response to the hostile actions of the US over the crackdown on the protests in Hong Kong.

“Any attempt by external forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs would be as futile as an ant trying to shake a big tree,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement. (RT)