WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has not ruled out additional sanctions on top Chinese officials as a result of actions he took on Tuesday (Jul 14) to punish China for its handling of Hong Kong, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which Trump signed on Tuesday, allows him to impose sanctions and visa restrictions on Chinese officials and financial institutions involved in the imposition of China's new national security law in Hong Kong.
Bloomberg News reported that Trump had ruled out additional sanctions on top Chinese officials for now to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing.
But National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot noted Trump last week issued sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials for their treatment of minority Uighur Muslims.
"In no way has he taken anything off the table with respect to further sanctions of party officials for actions in Hong Kong or on other issues. Any suggestion otherwise by anonymous sources is flat out wrong," Ullyot said.
White House discussions are ongoing about potential targets for sanctions and no final decisions have been made, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Among names being pushed by some China hawks is Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who has backed Beijing’s implementation of the security law, the source said.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Trump administration was considering a sweeping ban on travel to the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party, citing people familiar with the proposal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the legislation Trump signed and an executive order ending Hong Kong's special status under US law were justified.
"General Secretary Xi Jinping made a choice to violate the Chinese Communist Party’s promises to Hong Kong that were made in UN-registered treaty. He didn’t have to do that and he made that choice,” Pompeo told reporters. “We have to deal with China as it is, not as we wish it to be.“