US imposes sanctions on Carrie Lam and other Hong Kong officials

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The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including the pro-China chief of government, accusing them of undermining autonomy and restricting freedom of speech and assembly in the former British colony .The Treasury Department announced sanctions against Carrie Lam, the head of government in Hong Kong, and 10 other officials. The sanctions are the latest in a series of actions the Trump administration has taken against China as tensions between the two countries rise over trade disputes and the coronavirus.

The sanctions were authorized by an executive order President Donald Trump recently signed to impose sanctions on China for its efforts to curb anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has long enjoyed civil liberties that are not seen anywhere else in mainland China because it is governed by the “one country, two systems” principle in place since its return to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong earlier this year, raising widespread concerns about the Chinese government’s crackdown on anti-government protests.

“The recent imposition of draconian national security legislation in Hong Kong has not only undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy, but also violated the rights of Hong Kong residents,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Treasury said new law allowed mainland Chinese authorities to operate with impunity in Hong Kong, made “national security education” compulsory in Hong Kong schools, undermined the rule of law and laid the foundation for censorship of individuals and outlets “deemed hostile” to China.

The United States said Lam, the managing director of Hong Kong, is “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policy of suppressing freedom and democratic processes.”

Lam last year pushed to allow the extradition of citizens to the mainland, sparking massive opposition protests in Hong Kong, according to the Treasury.

Police took a woman during a demonstration at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on July 6, shortly after the introduction of a new national security law that made political opinions, slogans and signs illegal. advocating the independence or liberation of Hong Kong. (Isaac Lawrence / AFP via Getty Images)

Friday’s action freezes all property or other assets held by individuals in US jurisdiction.

Chris Tang, the Hong Kong Police Commissioner, has also been sanctioned for allegedly “coercing, arresting, detaining or imprisoning individuals” under the new security law, and former Police Commissioner Stephen Lo .

“The Chinese Communist Party has made it clear that Hong Kong will never again enjoy the high degree of autonomy that Beijing itself has promised the people of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom for 50 years,” said Secretary of State. Mike Pompeo in a statement.

“President Trump has made it clear that the United States will therefore treat Hong Kong as ‘a country, a system’ and take action against the individuals who have violated the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. ”

The other sanctioned officials were:

  • John Lee Ka-chiu, security secretary in Hong Kong who has set up a new police unit to enforce the new security law.
  • Teresa Cheng, Secretary of Justice.
  • Erick Tsang, Secretary of Constitutional and Continental Affairs.
  • Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao affairs office; and deputy director Zhang Xiaoming.
  • Luo Huining, Director of the Hong Kong Liaison Office.
  • Zheng Yanxiong, director of a new national security protection office in Hong Kong
  • Eric Chan, Secretary General of the National Security Safeguarding Committee.

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