Is it useful to impose secondary sanctions on senior officials involved in Hong Kong

The 14 deputy commissioners sanctioned by the Trump administration last year are about those responsible for participating in the development and implementation of Hong Kong‘s national security laws. They themselves, as well as their immediate Family members, are barred from entering the United States and face financial sanctions or asset freezes, and no U.S. institution or individual is permitted to deal with them.

This sanction is in accordance with the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, the State Department regularly updates the sanctions list, which means that in addition to continuing to retain the 14 deputy commissioners sanctions, the other 10 were also sanctioned by the U.S. last year and this year respectively, so that this Time is not another added sanction, but belongs to the update. This time, special emphasis was placed on the NPC’s new decision on Hong Kong’s electoral system.

The reason for sanctioning the deputy commissioners: they are involved in making laws about Hong Kong, including the national security law and the election law. The NPC is the so-called legislature, though only a rubber stamp.

A few others are also worth discussing. You Quan, the head of the Central United Front Work Department, was sanctioned on January 15 of this year, along with NPC Standing Committee member Tam Yiu-chung, one of the highest-ranking officials in the Hong Kong establishment to hold a position in the Communist Party.

At the CCP ministry level, those associated with Hong Kong are mainly the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of State Security and the United Front Work Department. Of these, the United Front Department has been of particular concern to the West in the past few years because of the involvement in infiltration, theft of intellectual property and some espionage, mainly by amateur spies, which cannot be prevented. The last U.S. administration designated as foreign missions in addition to the mouthpiece media is the United Front Work system. And Hong Kong is also where the United Front Department is most active.

Among the other eight are three heads of Chinese Communist Party agencies in Hong Kong and five top Hong Kong police officers, all of whom were sanctioned by the U.S. government on Nov. 9 last year and Jan. 15 this year, respectively. In other words, this time, although only financial sanctions, but the last sanctions, such as a personal or family members banned from entering the country this time is still in effect.

Officials in office, will be held accountable, here sanctions are in line with the principles established at the time of the Nuremberg trials, 1) national leaders can not be exempted from responsibility; 2) that is, individuals can not be exempted from responsibility for the crimes committed on the grounds of the implementation of orders. Although the Nuremberg trials have been controversial as victorious rather than neutral trials, I think these principles therein are very sound.

Why was Han, who was in charge of Hong Kong issues, not sanctioned? There is an argument that there is an agreement at the highest level in the U.S. and China that sanctions go up to the vice state level, and Han is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, which is a full state level. This is quite plausible. All U.S. laws regarding sanctions against foreign officials have a head of state exemption.

What does that sanction say?

One, it is the first U.S. diplomacy to confirm that it is being implemented in full accordance with the previous administration’s policy to maintain consistency.

Two, the sanctions have no effect. Absolutely they do, and while they may not directly affect Hong Kong policymaking at the highest levels, they will affect the morale of those involved in and implementing the CCP’s policies related to Hong Kong.

To tell two things, one is Bo Xilai, after being prosecuted in Canada, he gave up his plan to visit the United States to return to mainland China, and was obstructed by Wen Jiabao and others in official circles on the grounds that he was prosecuted too much overseas, which was not conducive to the image of the CCP, and lost the struggle for access to the core of the central government, and was relegated to Chongqing, in order to return to the center of power, before the singing of red and black, the flight of Wang Lijun and the earthquake in the political arena.

Another thing is the legend that at that time the CCP officials at the provincial level and above were discussing who had been prosecuted again when they met, which was seen to be extremely deterrent. At least after 2005, the Chinese Communist Party covered up the persecution and stopped making a big deal about it. These were revealed in the U.S. diplomatic messages released by Wikileaks back then, and have considerable credibility.