Hong Kong officials jeer at US sanctions

Pro-China supporters display a picture of US President Donald Trump reading “Despicable and shameless” during a protest against the US sanctions in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s leader and China’s top representative in the city took pot shots at the United States over the weekend after the Trump administration sanctioned them and nine other officials for allegedly cracking down on freedom and undermining the local autonomy of the former British colony. The sanctions, announced by the U.S. Treasury Department, block all property or other assets that the individuals have within U.S. jurisdiction.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam took to Facebook to say that the U.S. got her address wrong, listing the official address of her chief deputy instead. She noted that she was the deputy when she applied for her U.S. visa in 2016.
“By the way, my entry visa to the U.S. is valid until 2026. Since I have no desire to visit this country, it looks like I can take the initiative to cancel it,” Lam said.
Luo Huining, the director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said being included on the list shows that he has done what he should for the city and his country.
“I don’t have a penny of assets abroad. Isn’t it in vain to impose ‘sanctions’? Of course, I can also send 100 U.S. dollars to Mr. Trump for freezing,” he said in a statement on the office’s website.
The Treasury Department announced sanctions on Lam and 10 other officials. Among them is Chris Tang, the commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, for allegedly “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals” under the new security law, and the former police commissioner, Stephen Lo.
Hong Kong secretaries John Lee Ka-chiu, Teresa Cheng, and Erick Tsang have also been sanctioned, as well as Zheng Yanxiong, director of a new office for safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, and Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macao affairs office.
Hong Kong Commerce Secretary Edward Yau, who wasn’t sanctioned, called the sanctions “unreasonable and barbarous” and said they would harm U.S. interests in the city, an Asian financial and shipping hub.
The sanctions are the latest in a string of actions the Trump administration has taken targeting China as tensions between the two nations rise over trade, Covid-19 and other issues.
The sanctions were authorized by an executive order that 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 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.
“The recent imposition of draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong has not only undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy, it has also infringed on the rights of people in Hong Kong,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Treasury said the new law has allowed authorities in mainland China to operate with impunity in Hong Kong, has mandated “national security education” in Hong Kong schools, undermined the rule of law and laid the groundwork to censor individuals and outlets “deemed unfriendly” to China.
The U.S. said Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, is “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.” Last year, Lam pushed to allow citizens to be extradited to the mainland, setting off massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong, according to Treasury.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate intelligence committee, called Lam “Beijing’s hatchet woman.”
He said she has worked with the Chinese Communist Party to kill Hong Kong’s autonomy and gut the rule of law. “These cowards betrayed the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and deserve to pay a steep price,” he 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,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “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.” MDT/AP

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