(Minghui.org) The United States State Department announced on January 15 that it would impose sanctions on six Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials for suppressing pro-democracy activities in Hong Kong.

“Today, the United States is designating six PRC and Hong Kong officials in connection with the draconian National Security Law (NSL), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13936, ‘The President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization,’” wrote U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the statement.

On January 6, Hong Kong authorities arrested over 50 pro-democracy politicians and activists who were “trying to advance fair and open primary elections for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.” Among them, 13 former Legislative Council members, an American lawyer, and a former law professor were later released on bail.

“This action by Hong Kong authorities is yet another stark example of Hong Kong’s freedoms and democratic processes being fundamentally undermined by the PRC,” said the State Department.

As a result, three CCP officials were designated as “being or having been leaders or officials of entities, including any government entity, that have engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, developing, adopting, or implementing the National Security Law.”

The three officials include You Quan, Vice Chairman of the Central Leading Group on Hong Kong and Macau Affairs; Sun Wenqing aka Sun Qingye, Deputy Director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR; and Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

You Quan is also Secretary of the Secretariat of the CCP as well as head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the CCP.

According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the CCP uses “United Front” work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the Party’s policies and authority.

The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)—the agency responsible for coordinating these kinds of influence operations—mostly focuses on the management of potential opposition groups inside China, but it also has an important foreign influence mission. To carry out its influence activities abroad, the UFWD directs “overseas Chinese work,” which seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China, while a number of other key affiliated organizations guided by China’s broader United Front strategy conduct influence operations targeting foreign actors and states.”

In addition, the State Department designated Frederic Choi Chin-Pang, Kelvin Kong Hok Lai, and Andrew Kan Kai Yan, officials of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police, as “foreign persons who are or have been leaders or officials of an entity, including any government entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of, or in developing, adopting, or implementing, the NSL.” All of these designations are made according to section 4(a)(iii)(A) of E.O. 13936.

“The United States calls on the PRC and Hong Kong authorities to immediately release individuals who have been targeted under the NSL or other laws simply for exercising rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law and Joint Declaration, and to dismiss the charges against them,” concluded Pompeo in the statement. “We condemn PRC actions that erode Hong Kong’s freedoms and democratic processes and will continue to use all tools at our disposal to hold those responsible to account.”