U.S. sanctions Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for carrying out ‘policies of suppression’

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will impose a fresh round of sanctions on 11 individuals, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, as tensions between the United States and China accelerate.

The Treasury Department designated Lam for her role in overseeing and “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

According to the Department, Lam pushed last year to allow for extradition to mainland China, setting off a series of massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong.

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

The Trump administration has been critical of Beijing’s recent decision to pass a sweeping national security law aimed at limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy and banning literature critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has described the new law as an “Orwellian move” and an assault “on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

In a statement Friday, Pompeo said: “The Chinese Communist Party has made clear that Hong Kong will never again enjoy the high degree of autonomy that Beijing itself promised to the Hong Kong people and the United Kingdom for 50 years. President Trump has made clear that the United States will therefore treat Hong Kong as ‘one country, one system,’ and take action against individuals who have crushed the Hong Kong people’s freedoms.”

Along with Lam, Treasury is also sanctioning Chris Tang, Stephen Lo, John Lee Ka-chiu, Teresa Cheng, Erick Tsang, Xia Baolong, Zhang Xiaoming, Luo Huining, Zheng Yanxiong, and Eric Chan.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” according to the announcement.

The Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The new security law is the latest issue to cloud relations between Washington and Beijing. The Trump administration has blamed China for the health crisis caused by the coronavirus and has criticized Beijing for its territorial claims in the South China Sea, calling them illegal.

The world’s two largest economies are also struggling to mend trade relations, with intellectual property theft proving to be a major sticking point. Tensions between the U.S. and China have been increasing daily after Trump announced a ban on transactions with the Chinese owners of the WeChat and TikTok apps.

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