The U.S. is once again escalating tensions with China over Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong freedoms.
The U.S. Treasury and State Departments levied sanctions against 11 Hong Kong and China officials on Friday, most notably Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam. The sanctions are in response to severe crackdowns on freedoms those officials have taken against Hong Kongers at the mainland's direction.
These officials all helped implement Hong Kong's "draconian" national security law in late June, and were involved with "actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability or autonomy of Hong Kong," the Treasury Department said. It lets China monitor Hong Kongers more closely and punish people who protest for democracy in the area, who speak to journalists, or who otherwise oppose China's government. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said at the time the U.S. would likely sanction China over the law. Thursday's decision will let the U.S. seize any assets these officials have in the U.S., though experts tell the South China Morning Post the decision is largely symbolic.
Just last month, the U.S. also sanctioned government officials in Beijing over China's human rights abuses of the Uighur Muslims and other minority groups. China barred entry to some U.S. lawmakers in response. Trump aides have reportedly told Trump that appearing tough on China, including by blowing up a trade deal with the country, could help him win re-election. Kathryn Krawczyk