Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam was imposed with fresh sanctions by the US on Friday over her role in political freedom restrictions in the region. According to experts, the fresh round of sanctions extended by US on the Lam and ten other officials is a potential invitation to escalate the already ripe tensions between Washington and Beijing. This is the latest response by US in the aftermath of China imposed national security law on Hong Kong which has criminalized acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign interference.
Commenting on the latest sanctions imposed, the US Treasury Department said, “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.”
US Treasury Department has stated Lam to be directly responsible for the controversial law imposition in Hong Kong by Beijing. “In 2019, Lam pushed for an update to Hong Kong’s extradition arrangements to allow for extradition to the mainland, setting off a series of massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong. Lam is designated for being involved in developing, adopting, or implementing the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law),” Treasury Department said.
In response to the sanctions Carrie Lam has defended the National Security Law saying “it is crucial step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the past few months.” She had said in July, “It’s a law that has been introduced to keep Hong Kong safe. The legislation is lawful, constitutional and reasonable.”
Hong Kong authorities have said that there would be counter responses to the sanctions on Lam and others.
Edward Yau, the city’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development said, “I do not find any valid reason for this blatant interference of Hong Kong affairs by a foreign country. I do not think this is necessary or in a civilized manner to do so. It will definitely hurt the Hong Kong-US relations.”
The sanctions imposed on Friday say, “All property and interests in property of the individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”
Experts suggest that the US imposed sanctions will have a strategic ripple effect in the Asia-Pacific region diplomatically and economically, with drastic influence on Hong Kong’s position in the region.