The US decision to impose sanctions on four Hong Kong and mainland officials accused of suppressing dissidents amounts to “barbaric interference” in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said on Tuesday.

Matthew Cheung. Photo: Rhoda Kwan/HFKP.

“This is unacceptable, this is absolutely unacceptable. This is a blatant, grossly outrageous – I would use the word barbaric – interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs,” Cheung told a press briefing.

“We are doing our job to protect and safeguard Hong Kong’s security and national security. It is incumbent upon Hong Kong’s officials to do that. It is our obligation, we are obliged to do it. We should do it,” he said.

“So we are not going to be intimidated by any of these actions. In fact this is clearly a breach of international practice.”

The four named by the US Treasury Department are in addition to 11 individuals sanctioned since August. They include Edwina Lau, head of the Hong Kong police’s new National Security Division; Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the security division; Li Jiangzhou, deputy director of China’s Office for Safeguarding National Security; and Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

Photo: Internet.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Hong Kong-based officials continue to dismantle the promised autonomy and freedoms of Hong Kong through politically motivated arrests,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

The new sanctions are “in connection with implementing the PRC-imposed National Security Law and threatening the peace, security, and autonomy of Hong Kong,” he said. The sweeping new law came into force on June 30.

The individuals are barred from travelling to the US and any assets they hold within US jurisdiction will be blocked.

Cheung, the chief secretary, is acting chief executive while the city’s leader Carrie Lam is on an official visit to Macau.

Lam, who was herself among those sanctioned in August, previously described the US measures as “shameless and despicable” while Beijing’s liaison office called the move “barbarous and rude.”

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.