US imposes sanctions on 4 more over HK freedom curbs

WASHINGTON • The United States has imposed sanctions on four more officials accused of curbing freedoms in Hong Kong, vowing accountability over China's clampdown in the city.

Ms Edwina Lau, head of the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police Force, is among the officials who will be barred from travelling to the US and whose US-based assets, if any, will be frozen.

"These actions underscore US resolve to hold accountable key figures that are actively eviscerating the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermining Hong Kong's autonomy," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.

Ms Lau yesterday called the sanctions an "attempt of the United States to undermine the police force's efforts in safeguarding national security".

The other officials hit by the latest sanctions are Mr Li Jiangzhou, deputy director of a Hong Kong office for safeguarding national security; Mr Steve Li, senior superintendent of the National Security Department; and Mr Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Mr Steve Li said the "unfair" US sanctions will not shake his determination to enforce the law.

Beijing yesterday blasted the United States for "blatantly meddling in Hong Kong affairs", calling for Washington to reverse its decision.

"Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs and no external force has the right to interfere," Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press briefing.

The US has already imposed similar sanctions on Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is an ally of Beijing.

Mrs Lam has tried to downplay the impact but acknowledged that she had trouble with a credit card after the sanctions.

Hong Kong Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung slammed the latest US sanctions as "absolutely unacceptable and grossly outrageous".

The US pressure comes after China forged ahead with a tough security law that bars, among other things, subversion in the financial hub, which has witnessed major pro-democracy protests.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2020, with the headline 'US imposes sanctions on 4 more over HK freedom curbs'. Print Edition | Subscribe