Hong Kong: US sanctions chief executive Carrie Lam for role in draconian crackdown on political freedom

Treasury secretary Mnuchin says US stands with people of Hong Kong and will target those undermining their autonomy

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 07 August 2020 16:10
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The US has imposed sanctions on senior Hong Kong officials, including chief executive Carrie Lam, for their part in restricting democratic freedoms.

The sanctions come as part of July’s executive order signed by president Donald Trump to punish China for suppressing protests and political dissent in the territory.

A statement from the US Treasury Department named Ms Lam as being “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes”.

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

Implementation of Beijing’s national security legislation allows mainland security services to operate with impunity “setting the groundwork for censorship of any individuals or outlets that are deemed unfriendly to China”.

In addition to the chief executive, sanctions also target 10 other individuals, including police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo, secretary of security John Lee Ka-chiu and justice secretary Teresa Cheng. The remainder are Erick Tsang, Xia Baolong, Zhang Xiaoming, Luo Huining, Zheng Yanxiong and Eric Chan.

Any US assets of those sanctioned are now frozen, and Americans are barred from doing business with them.

President Trump is keen to be seen as tough on China in the run-up to November’s election and the tensions with Beijing are escalating day by day – the most recent example being the action taken against the Chinese owners of TikTok and WeChat. The administration also blames Beijing for the spread of the coronavirus.

Sanctions were reportedly discussed following the decision by Ms Lam to postpone elections planned for 6 September by a year, citing a rise in Covid-19 cases.

The pro-democracy opposition had hoped to make big gains in the territory’s legislature. The US condemned the decision.

With reporting from Reuters

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