Washington sanctions Carrie Lam over Hong Kong’s security law

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader is accused of implementing China’s repressive policies. Ten other senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials are sanctioned as well. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will decide on how to handle constitutional "vacuum" created by the postponement of local parliamentary elections.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The Trump administration yesterday imposed economic sanctions on Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, for implementing Beijing's repressive policies aimed at suppressing the freedoms and democracy of the former British colony.

In particular, the US Treasury Department has sanctioned the pro-establishment official for her role in the adoption of the new security law imposed by China’s rulers.

In addition to Lam, Washington's sanctions target 10 other senior officials in Hong Kong and China, including Hong Kong’s secretaries of justice and security, the current and former police chief, and Luo Huining, head of China’s Liaison Office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Lam has reserved the right to respond to the US government. For his part, Luo said that the US move is a "complete waste of energy" since he does not own any assets in the US.

For pro-democracy activists and several observers, the adoption of the security legislation has been followed by a crackdown. The law came into effect on 30 June, giving police wide powers to take action against any activity that threatens national security.

In case of victory in Hong Kong’s parliamentary elections in September, the pro-democracy opposition had planned to block the law’s implementation, but Lam postponed the vote by one year because of the COVID-19 emergency.

For pro-democracy advocates, she is using the pandemic as an excuse to avoid a heavy electoral defeat. Several legal experts also question the postponement’s legitimacy.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is set to meet next Tuesday (11 August) to decide how to handle the constitutional "vacuum" created by the vote’s postponement.

The committee is also expected to rule on whether four pro-democracy Members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council can continue to serve as lawmakers in the coming year after their candidacy in the September election had been invalidated.