Top officials join in dismissive reaction to US sanctions

Local | 8 Aug 2020 3:53 pm

Several Hong Kong’s top officials who were sanctioned by the United States’ Treasury Department have reacted Washington’s move with dismissive remarks. 

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was singled out for “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes” and attempting to pass the now-withdrawn extradition bill on the sanctions list, said in a Facebook post she has no will to visit the US.

In the afternoon, Lam said she would take the initiative to cancel her US visitor visa due to expire in 2026. 

Her comments came hours after Facebook announced that it would bar those on the sanction list from using paid advertising tools from now on.

Lam expressed doubts on the authenticity of the personal information publicized on the US Treasury Department’s website, as her address was wrongly indicated as the Victoria House, which was her residence during her time as the SAR’s Chief Secretary.

“Don’t the US officials know that the Chief Executive lives in the Government House on Upper Albert Road?” Lam wrote. 

Some officials, including herself, had their SAR passport number revealed, but others did not, Lam noted. 

“Such carelessness reminds me of how the US government spelt the name of Edward Snowden wrong when they submitted the documents requesting his extradition,” she added, referring to the former US National Security Agency contractor who hid in the city briefly after leaking information about the US government’s mass surveillance program.

Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung said this morning that safeguarding mainland and Hong Kong’s security is his responsibility and honor, and that the sanction was deemed “meaningless” to him. 

Tang was among the 11 mainland and Hong Kong political chiefs the US government imposed sanctions on for curtailing citizens’ freedoms in the SAR. He was accused “for coercing, arresting, detaining or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the national security law”.

Others on the list were Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai. 

Lee, who was included for “being involved in its development, adoption, or implementation” under the sweeping national security law, noted the US also had a large number of legislations to protect its national security.

He criticized Washington used Hong Kong’s national security act as an excuse to impose sanctions, which reflected its double standards and hypocrisy. 

“Safeguarding national security is a matter of justice and duty. The United States plans to use this so-called sanction to intimidate, but it will not succeed,” Lee said in a statement. 

Tsang, named for being responsible for developing, adopting or implementing the national security law, slammed the US’s “barbarous” action to make officials’ personal information public. 

He said the sanction was “meaningless” and “unaffecting” to him, and described it as a “self-delusion”.

“Please impose sanctions that can leave an impact on me,” Tsang said in a statement. 

“We won’t be intimidated, in fact, it further confirms our belief that what we have been doing for national security is right. For the national security and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, we would continue to strongly condemn and eliminate those who endanger national safety and interfere in the country’s internal affairs.”

In response to his personal data being revealed, Tsang said he would consider filing complaints after discussions with the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and the Department of Justice.

The designations also included the SAR’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, retired Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong, his deputies Zhang Xiaoming and Luo Huining, the director of the new Office for Safeguarding National Security, Zheng Yanxiong and the office’s secretary general Eric Chan Kwok-ki.

Under the actions brought by the US Treasury Department’s Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), American asset and property of the individuals named will be frozen. They will also be barred from running businesses in the US.

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