US sanctions six pro-China officials over Hong Kong arrests

The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on six officials including Hong Kong’s sole representative to China’s top lawmaking body over mass arrests of pro-democracy activists in the financial hub.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the latest in a slew of sanctions imposed in the final days of his term and following political violence in Washington, called the crackdown in Hong Kong “appalling.”

“We condemn PRC actions that erode Hong Kong’s freedoms and democratic processes and will continue to use all tools at our disposable to hold those responsible to account,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Among those hit by sanctions was Tam Yiu-Chung, the Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and You Quan, the vice chairman of the Chinese government group that handles policy toward Hong Kong and fellow former colony Macau.

Three Hong Kong security officials were also hit by the sanctions, which restrict any US transactions with them.

China last year imposed a draconian security law in Hong Kong after widespread and sometimes violent protests that sought to preserve the territory’s separate freedoms.

The United States earlier imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s top leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who later acknowledged that she has had to rely on cash and can no longer hold a bank account.

Pompeo earlier threatened US action after the rounding up on January 6 of more than 50 people in Hong Kong including a US lawyer, John Clancey, who worked for a law firm known for taking up human rights cases.

The US actions are sure to provoke Chinese calls of hypocrisy as President Donald Trump’s supporters on the same day violently raided the US Capitol in an effort to block the ceremonial certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.