China restricts US diplomatic travel to Hong Kong

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China is imposing restrictions on travel to Hong Kong by some US officials and others in retaliation for similar measures imposed on Chinese individuals by Washington, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

US diplomatic passport holders visiting Hong Kong and nearby Macao will temporarily no longer receive visa-free entry privileges, spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

US administration officials, congressional staffers, employees of non-governmental organisations and their immediate family members will face “reciprocal sanctions,” Hua said.

She was apparently referring to US sanctions that bar certain Chinese and Hong Kong officials from travelling to the US or having dealings with the US financial system over their roles in imposing a sweeping National Security Law passed this summer that ushered in a crackdown on free speech and opposition political activity in Hong Kong.

Hua said the move was taken “given that the US side is using the Hong Kong issue to seriously interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s core interests.”

Those sanctioned “have performed egregiously and are primarily responsible on the Hong Kong issue,“ she said at a daily briefing.

“China once again urges the US side to immediately stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path,” Hua said.

Source: SMH

Japan says it will abide by US sanctions, freeze Carrie Lam’s accounts

The Japanese government has confirmed that domestic banks with operations in the United States are required to adhere to sanctions imposed by Washington, meaning they are not permitted to carry out transactions on behalf of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

The government confirmed its understanding of the requirement on Japanese banks in response to a written question from Jin Matsubara, a member of parliament from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and a former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“The government asks Japanese financial groups that have offices overseas to consider the fact that laws and regulations on sanctions in those countries may be stricter than those of Japan,” the government said in a statement issued after the cabinet meeting.

Matsubara has been a vocal supporter of Hong Kong’s independence and believes that confirmation from the Japanese government that financial institutions are required to freeze any of Lam’s bank accounts could have other consequences.

“My understanding is that the Japanese government has instructed Japanese banking groups with operations in the US not to deal with those designated for sanctions by the US, even outside the US jurisdiction,” Matsubara told This Week in Asia.

This means that if Lam does have accounts with Japanese banks that operate in the US and are therefore subject to the US regulations, those accounts will be frozen and she will not be able to open new ones with those banking institutions. The Japanese government statement makes no mention of restrictions on her travel.

“This now means that US sanctions will be automatically applied in Japan,” Matsubara said. “And it’s not just Carrie Lam, but other designated Chinese officials will have their accounts frozen now. This means they will have great difficulty if they want to sell real estate that they hold in Japan.

Source: SCMP

HK tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under security law

Hong Kong democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been charged under the city’s national security law on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces, his Apple Daily newspaper reported.

Lai, an ardent critic of Beijing, would be the highest profile person charged under the sweeping new law imposed on the Chinese-ruled city in June.

The 73-year-old was due to appear in court on Saturday, according to Apple Daily, a popular tabloid known for its feisty and critical coverage of China and Hong Kong.

The security law punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail.

It has been condemned by the West and human rights groups as a tool to crush dissent in the semi-autonomous, Chinese-ruled city.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing say it is vital to plug gaping holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the global financial hub over the last year.

Mark Simon, an associate of Lai, said authorities wanted to silence him.

“The goal is to hold Jimmy Lai, and shut Jimmy Lai up,” he said.

Hong Kong police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: AAP

Edited by staff

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