US warns banks against dealings with 10 officials including Carrie Lam, Chris Tang, Teresa Cheng, and Luo Huining

Local | 15 Oct 2020 8:53 am

The United States Department of State on Wednesday formally warned international financial institutions doing business with individuals deemed responsible for China’s crackdown in Hong Kong that they could soon face sanctions.

In a report to Congress seen by Reuters, the State Department named 10 individuals – all of whom have already been sanctioned, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – and said within 60 days it would identify financial institutions that conduct significant transactions with them.

The report names, Luo Huining, the director of the Central Government Liaison Office.

The report also names other officials, including Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng; Erick Tsang, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs; Zheng Yanxiong, a member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Guangdong Provincial Committee, the head ofthe Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central Government in Hong Kong; Eric Chan, Secretary-General of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR; John Lee Ka-Chiu, Secretary for Security and the head of the Security Bureau, and Police Commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung.

The State Department report, required under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, comes at a time when relations between the US and China, the world’s two biggest economies, have plunged to the lowest point in decades in the run-up to US President Donald Trump’s November 3 re-election bid.

“The release of this report underscores our ongoing objection to Beijing’s actions that are intentionally designed to erode the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and impose the Chinese Comunist Party's oppressive policies,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

In August, Washington imposed sanctions on Lam and other senior security and political officials for what Washington says is their role in curtailing political freedoms in a crackdown on the territory’s pro-democracy movement.

Wednesday’s State Department report did not add any new individuals to the list nor did it name any banks or other financial institutions that might be at risk for sanctions.

The US Hong Kong Autonomy Act that Trump signed into law on July 14 required the State Department to list those people deemed responsible for communist-ruled China’s failure to meet its obligations towards Hong Kong within 90 days, which makes them liable for sanctions.

It also requires a list of any financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant financial transactions with such persons 60 days after that.

It allows the US president to impose sanctions on individuals as soon as they are named and calls for sanctions on the financial institutions no later than a year after they are named.

Senior US and United Kingdom politicians have criticised HSBC and Standard Chartered after the banks backed China’s national security law for the territory.

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