US imposes sanctions on Hong Kong chief executive and top officials over policies of 'brutal oppression'

Luke O'Reilly
·2-min read
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong: AFP via Getty Images
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong: AFP via Getty Images

The US has imposed sanctions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and other top officials for undermining the territory's autonomy.

The sanctions were imposed under an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump last month to punish China for its moves against dissent in Hong Kong.

As well as Lam, the sanctions target Hong Kong Police commissioner Chris Tang and his predecessor Stephen Lo; John Lee Ka-chiu, Hong Kong's secretary of security, and Teresa Cheng, the justice secretary, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

It said Beijing's imposition of draconian national security legislation had undermined Hong Kong's autonomy and allowed mainland security services to operate with impunity, "setting the groundwork for censorship of any individuals or outlets that are deemed unfriendly to China."

Tensions between the US and China are increasing (AFP via Getty Images)
Tensions between the US and China are increasing (AFP via Getty Images)

"Carrie Lam is the chief executive directly responsible for implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes," it said.

"The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy", US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The sanctions freeze any U.S. asset of the officials and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.

The sanctions bar Americans from doing business with the officials (AFP via Getty Images)
The sanctions bar Americans from doing business with the officials (AFP via Getty Images)

Tensions between the United States and China have been increasing daily. China's foreign ministry said on Friday it firmly opposes executive orders that Trump announced this week to ban U.S. transactions with the Chinese owners of the WeChat and TikTok apps.

Last month, Carrie Lam postponed a Sept. 6 election to Hong Kong's legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition that had hoped to make huge gains.

The United States condemned the action, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy in the Chinese-ruled territory.