The U.S. on Friday imposed sanctions on Hong Kong officials, including the pro-China leader of the government, accusing them of roles in squashing freedom in the former British colony. The Treasury Department announced sanctions on Carrie Lam, the leader of the government in Hong Kong, and other officials.
The sanctions are the latest in a string of actions the Trump administration has taken targeting China asover trade disputes and the coronavirus.
“We will not stand by while the people of Hong Kong suffer brutal oppression at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party or its enablers,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.
The sanctions were authorized by an executive order that President Donald Trump signed recently to levy penalties against China for its efforts to curtail anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has long enjoyed civil liberties not seen elsewhere in mainland China because it is governed under a “one country, two systems” principle in place since it reverted 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 cracking down on the anti-government protests.
Last week, four students were arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce China’s new law, officials said Wednesday. Arrests have been made previously under the new law for banners and slogans displayed at protests.
“Three males and one female, age 16-21, who claimed to be students, have been arrested for breaching the #nationalsecuritylaw. They were suspected of secession by advocating #HKindependence. Investigation is underway,” the Hong Kong police tweeted.
Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said that one of those arrested was Tony Chung, a student activist, and that he was detained after writing a Facebook post about “#China’s nationalism.”