US sanctions Hong Kong leaders, top Chinese officials

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other senior officials of the territory have been sanctioned by the United States on Friday for their roles in curbing the city’s promised freedoms and in implementing a draconian national security law.

The US State Department said the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had made clear that Hong Kong would never again enjoy the high degree of autonomy promised under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, and that the city will no longer be regarded by the United States as a separate jurisdiction from mainland China.

“The United States will therefore … take action against individuals who have crushed the Hong Kong people’s freedoms,” it said in a statement on its official website.

Under an Executive Order already signed by President Donald Trump, the US Treasury will freeze the US assets of Lam, her chief of police Chris Tang, and secretary for security John Lee, as well as those of constitutional affairs secretary Erick Tsang and newly appointed head of national security Eric Chan.

Former police chief Stephen Lo and justice secretary Teresa Cheng are also named as targets under the sanction order.

Ruling Chinese Communist Party officials Zhang Xiaoming and Xia Baolong will also be sanctioned for being part of a body, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) under China’s State Council, that “threaten[s]the peace, security, stability or autonomy” of Hong Kong, the State Department said.

Luo Huining and Zheng Yanxiong, who as national security adviser and head of the national security office respectively, have ultimate responsibility for implementing a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by decree from July 01, are also named.

“This law, purportedly enacted to ‘safeguard’ the security of Hong Kong, is in fact a tool of CCP repression,” the State Department statement said.

The US Treasury said in a separate statement that the national security law had allowed China’s feared state security police to operate with impunity in Hong Kong, undermining the rule of law.

“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy,” Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above … that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked,” the Treasury said, adding that US citizens and residents are barred from any business transactions with those named.

It said Lam was “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

Reuters quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying that Lam’s recent postponement of elections to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) for one year, citing coronavirus concerns, had intensified US deliberations on sanctions. (Source: RFA)

 

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