China to decide fate of Hong Kong legislature after term expires

The move comes weeks after China imposed a controversial national security law on Hong Kong, which critics say threatened its freedoms.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong government spokesman said: The sanctions were "shameless and despicable" and represented "blatant and barbaric" interference in China's internal affairs.

The sanctions are aimed at penalizing Beijing for curtailing anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong.

The move accelerates rapidly deteriorating Sino-U.S. ties, more than a month after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong that drew condemnation from Western governments and sent a chill across the city.

Apart from Carrie Lam, several high-profile Hong Kong officials, including, Chris Tang and Stephen Lo - the current and former commissioners of the city's police force - were sanctioned by the US.

HONG KONG, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Beijing's top representative office in Hong Kong said on Saturday that sanctions imposed by Washington on senior Hong Kong and Chinese officials were "clowning actions" that would not frighten or intimidate Chinese people.

Secretary for Justice of the HKSAR government Teresa Cheng said that the illegal so-called sanction imposed by the United States has further strengthened her belief in safeguarding national security.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. "Since I have no desire to visit this country, it looks like I can take the initiative to cancel it", Lam said.

But the US Treasury Department said "the recent imposition of draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong has not only undermined Hong Kong's autonomy, it has also infringed on the rights of people in Hong Kong".

"I don't have a penny of assets overseas".

The head of mainland China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Luo Huining, pointed out that the recent personal USA sanctions will have zero effect on him and only prove that he is doing "the right thing".

The 11 sanctioned officials will have all property in the United States seized and financial assets frozen.

Hours before the sanctions were announced, President Trump signed an executive order banning all United States transactions with Chinese-owned companies WeChat and Byte Dance, claiming that they posed a threat to national security.

Last month, Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election to Hong Kong's legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition that had hoped to make huge gains.

A spokesperson for Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission told Reuters that it "is not aware of any aspect of the (law) or the US sanctions. that would affect the way in which firms carry on their normal operations in Hong Kong".

-John Lee Ka-chiu, secretary for security in Hong Kong who has introduced a new police unit that will have intelligence gathering and investigative abilities, to enforce the new security law.

Al Jazeera's Sarah Clarke, reporting from Hong Kong, said the tone of response from Hong Kong indicates "there's potential for this city to reciprocate".

The US measures come three months ahead of the November election in which Trump, who is behind his rival Joe Biden, is campaigning hard on an increasingly strident anti-Beijing message.

With the USA presidential election looming in November, pundits say a hardline stance against China is perceived as a positive among voters in the United States amid the increasing rivalry between the world's two largest economies.



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