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U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive and Other Officials for National Security Law

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam in August 2019 (Ann Wang/Reuters)

The U.S. will impose sanctions on Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam as well as Chinese Communist Party officials for their involvement in stifling political freedoms in Hong Kong, the Trump administration announced Friday.

The Trump administration announced the new sanctions on 11 individuals including Lam for her efforts in “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” the Treasury Department said.

“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,” the Treasury Department’s announcement read.

“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 June, China passed a controversial national security law aimed at tightening Beijing’s control over Hong Kong. China claims that the national security law is necessary to crack down on separatism, subversion, terrorism, and foreign intervention in Hong Kong, but critics and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have warned that the law, which comes after months of pro-democracy demonstrations among residents of the territory, will erase the “one country, two systems” arrangement between Hong Kong and Beijing and will erode the civil liberties currently enjoyed by Hong Kong residents, including the right to assembly, a free press, and a judiciary system independent of mainland China.

The measure enables China to crack down more easily on protests in Hong Kong and permits China’s state security agencies to operate in the territory.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has spoken in favor of the law, saying it fills a “gaping hole” in national security and promising that it would not harm Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called the law an “Orwellian move” by Beijing and told Congress in May that the city of Hong Kong no longer “maintains a high degree of autonomy from China.”

“Until now, Hong Kong flourished because it allowed free thinking and free speech, under an independent rule of law.  No more,” Pompeo said in July.

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