İrem UZUN -TDO- The administration of President Donald Trump on Friday decided to impose sanctions on Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam as well as 10 other individuals for "undermining Hong Kong's autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong," according to a statement on the U.S. Treasury's website. The blacklistings are being implemented under an executive order Trump issued in mid-July aimed at punishing China over a new sweeping national security law on Hong Kong that criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.

Lam has defended the controversial law as a "crucial step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the past few months." "It's a law that has been introduced to keep Hong Kong safe," she said in July. "The legislation is lawful, constitutional and reasonable." The Treasury Department cited her as being "directly responsible for implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes."

"Today's actions send a clear message that the Hong Kong authorities' actions are unacceptable and in contravention of China's commitments under 'one country, two systems' and the Sino-British Joint Declaration," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Friday. Additionally, “The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy,” said the secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin.

Hong Kong executive councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a pro-Beijing figure who has supported the national security law, called the sanctions “totally unreasonable” and said the mention of officials’ infringement of human rights in Hong Kong was pure pretext. “The U.S. government has good relations with countries which grossly violate human rights,” said Ip, adding that countermeasures from Beijing are expected.

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