The Trump administration on Friday targeted 11 individuals with sanctions over Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong, including Carrie Lam, the chief executive of the autonomous territory.
The sanctions targeting Lam and several other Hong Kong and Chinese officials is the latest escalation as tensions rise between the U.S. and Beijing.
“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy,” Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE said in a statement.
The Treasury Department cited Lam for “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.” The sanctions freeze any assets the 11 individuals have in the United States, though Lam has said she does not have assets in the country.
The Trump administration has levied sanctions on Hong Kong and China in recent weeks in response to the passage of a national security law that offers Beijing a high degree of power over the semi-autonomous territory.
Administration officials have accused Beijing of violating its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which was signed between the British and Chinese in 1984 and is meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2047. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department’s special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration State Department offers M reward for foreign election interference information State Department’s special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration MORE in May said the U.S. could no longer certify that Hong Kong was autonomous from China.
The latest sanctions come against the backdrop of broader tensions between Washington and Beijing. Trump has castigated China over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, repeatedly referring to it as the “China Virus.”
Trump has said China will face consequences for its role in covering up the early warning signs of the pandemic, though he has not offered any specifics. The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping in early 2020 for his transparency in responding to the outbreak.
Trump late Thursday ratcheted up tensions again when he targeted the Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat with executive orders that ban any U.S. persons or companies from doing business with their parent companies after 45 days.