The United States has levied sanctions against four Chinese officials in Hong Kong’s security establishment for what it says is their role in cracking down on dissent.
In a statement attributed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the four are connected “with implementing the PRC-imposed National Security Law and threatening the peace, security, and autonomy of Hong Kong, pursuant to Executive Order 13936.”
Those sanctioned are Li Jiangzhou, Edwina Lau, Steve Li Kwai-wah and Deng Zhonghua.
According to the State Department, Li Jiangzhou is the deputy director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security, established under the national security law. Lau is head of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, and Li Kwai-Wah is the senior superintendent. Deng is the deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
“These individuals will be barred from traveling to the United States, and their assets within the jurisdiction of the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons will be blocked,” according to the State Department statement. “These actions underscore U.S. resolve to hold accountable key figures that are actively eviscerating the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung called the sanctions “absolutely unacceptable” during a press briefing early Tuesday morning. Cheung also called the U.S. State Department’s actions “a blatant” and “barbaric” interference in the city’s internal affairs. Cheung was speaking as acting chief executive on behalf of Carrie Lam, who is traveling.
China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in July to strictly deal with opposition to China’s actions in the former British colony.
Washington warned in October that it would put sanctions on officials involved in suppressing freedoms in Hong Kong. In August, the U.S. placed sanctions on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other officials, saying they had been involved in cracking down on dissent.
Pompeo urged Beijing “to abide by international commitments it made in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty.”