U.S. announces sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Foreign Affairs

The United States has announced sanctions on 11 senior Hong Kong officials for their involvement in implementing the new national security law imposed by Beijing, and other repressive measures in the city.

hong kong leader carrie lam at a news conference, wearing a face mask
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam at a news conference on July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik.

The U.S. Treasury Department today announced sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥 Lín Zhèng Yuè’é) and 10 other current and former senior officials from the territory, accusing them of enforcing Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong.

  • The detailed list, including the 11 individuals’ passport numbers and dates of birth, is here.
  • The sanctions were taken pursuant to Donald Trump’s executive order “on Hong Kong normalization” that was issued on July 14, 2020.

Lam is accused of being “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes,” including her push for the extradition law that sparked the massive protests of 2019, and for “being involved in developing, adopting, or implementing” the national security law.

  • Other targets of the sanctions include “Hong Kong’s secretaries of justice and security, the city’s current and former police chiefs, and senior leadership in Beijing’s liaison office to Hong Kong,” per the South China Morning Post.
  • The sanctions call for “all property and interests in property” of the named individuals and “of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by them…that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons” to be “blocked” and reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
  • U.S. persons and entities are also prohibited from business dealings with them.

What does this all mean?

This is yet another escalation of the growing confrontation between the U.S. and China. Beijing will, of course, be angry.

  • The sanctions will make life, and business, inconvenient for all the named individuals and any company associated with them.
  • Hong Kong’s reputation as a global hub of finance and business will be further degraded — international companies will have to think even more carefully about establishing, maintaining, and investing in Hong Kong entities if they wish to continue doing business in the U.S.

Related: “The Hong Kong government said it ‘strongly deplored and opposed’ a statement by the United States consulate on Friday calling the new national security legislation a ‘draconian’ law that would have a chilling effect on the city,” reports the South China Morning Post.