The Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, the latest Trump administration action aimed at curbing Beijing’s influence over the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, was added Friday to the list of “Specially Designated Nationals” managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control — the Treasury Department agency tasked with enforcing economic and trade sanctions.
“As part of its enforcement efforts, OFAC publishes a list of individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, targeted countries,” according to the department. The assets of those SDNs are blocked and Americans “are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”
Lam’s addition to the list comes a week after she announced Hong Kong would delay by a year its Legislative Council elections, previously scheduled to take place in September, due to coronavirus concerns.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denounced Lam’s decision last Friday, saying it “undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong’s prosperity.”
McEnany also said Lam’s invocation of her emergency powers to force the postponement represented “only the most recent in a growing list of broken promises by Beijing, which promised autonomy and freedoms to the Hong Kong people until 2047 in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
President Donald Trump in recent months has stepped up efforts to punish China’s government for behavior including its initial handling of the coronavirus pandemic, exertion of greater authority in Hong Kong amid a pro-democracy movement there, and internment of Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic minorities.
Two weeks ago, the State Department announced that it directed China to shutter its consulate in Houston “in order to protect American intellectual property” and the “private information” of U.S. citizens.
Beijing subsequently demanded that American personnel close their own consulate in the western city of Chengdu, a seemingly reciprocal maneuver against the U.S. government’s presence in China.
On Thursday, Trump issued an executive order prohibiting transactions with the parent Chinese company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, barring Americans and U.S. companies from conducting transactions with the tech giant ByteDance because of “national security” concerns.