The US on Friday imposed sanctions on six officials, including Hong Kong’s sole representative to China’s top lawmaking body, over mass arrests of pro-democracy advocates in the territory.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the latest of a slew of sanctions imposed in the final days of his term, and following political violence in Washington, called the crackdown in Hong Kong “appalling.”
“We condemn PRC actions that erode Hong Kong’s freedoms and democratic processes, and will continue to use all tools at our disposable to hold those responsible to account,” Pompeo said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Among those hit by sanctions was Tam Yiu-Chung (譚耀宗), the Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and You Quan (尤權), the vice chairman of the Chinese government group that handles policy for Hong Kong and Macau.
Three Hong Kong security officials were also hit by the sanctions, which restrict any US transactions with them.
China last year imposed a draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong after widespread and sometimes violent protests that sought to preserve the territory’s separate freedoms.
The US earlier imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), who later acknowledged that she has had to rely on cash and can no longer hold a bank account.
Pompeo earlier threatened US action after the rounding up on Wednesday last week of more than 50 people in Hong Kong, including a US lawyer, John Clancey, who worked for a law firm known for taking up human rights cases.
Hong Kong yesterday hit back at the US, slamming the sanctions as “insane, shameless and despicable.”
The Hong Kong government in a statement expressed “utmost anger” and denounced the “coercive measures,” which it said were Washington’s latest attempt to intervene in China’s internal affairs and obstruct the territory’s effort to safeguard national security.
“The US government has exploited every incident and excuse to make slandering remarks about the National Security Law,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.
“We cannot help but suspect that the National Security Law has touched a nerve of those foreign or external forces,” the spokesperson added.
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