The administration of United States President Donald Trump on Friday slapped sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam as well as 10 other individuals for, “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong,” according to a statement on the US Treasury’s website.
The blacklistings are being implemented under an executive order Trump issued in mid-July aimed at punishing China over a new sweeping national security law.
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“The 11 individuals designated today have implemented policies directly aimed at curbing freedom of expression and assembly, and democratic processes, and are subsequently responsible for the degradation of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” the US Treasury statement said. “The United States will use the authorities in the Executive Order to continue to pursue those that implement these nefarious policies.”
Treasury accuses Lam of being, “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” citing her support for a change in the territory’s extradition arrangements with mainland China that sparked months of massive protests in Hong Kong.
Other individuals blacklisted by the Treasury on Friday include Hong Kong’s current police commissioner, Chris Tang, as well as his predecessor Stephen Lo; the territory’s secretaries for security, justice, and constitutional and mainland affairs, and others.
“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 issued on Friday freeze any US asset of the blacklisted individuals and generally bar Americans from doing business with them.
Friday’s round of sanctions marks the latest escalation in tensions between Washington and Beijing.
With less than 100 days to go until the US presidential election, relations between the two countries have grown increasingly acrimonious as the Trump administration takes a hard line against Beijing over issues ranging from Hong Kong, to China’s treatment of Uighurs, to Chinese tech firms and apps.
Last month, Washington sanctioned a member of China’s powerful Politburo and three other senior officials, accusing them of serious human rights abuses against Uighur Muslim minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region.
Late on Thursday, Trump issued executive orders that will ban US companies and individuals from engaging in any transactions with short-video app TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, as well as messaging app WeChat, which is owned by China’s Tencent Holdings.
China’s foreign ministry said on Friday it firmly opposes the executive orders.