Last Friday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 11 senior officials
in Hong Kong and on the mainland whom they accused of curtailing freedoms in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). In response, China announced sanctions against 11 American lawmakers
and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes on Monday, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warning, “China urges the U.S. to have a clear understanding of the situation, correct mistakes, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs.” Yet despite China’s assertion that issues related to border regions such as Hong Kong, Macau, Xinjiang and even Taiwan are “internal affairs,” the HKSAR in particular has long served as a gateway between mainland China and the rest of the world. Its unique position has been underscored by its differences from the mainland. Shortly after China issued its largely symbolic sanctions, police in Hong Kong arrested
the media mogul Jimmy Lai and several pro-democracy activists, showing that the administration would not be deterred in its national security crackdown by U.S.-China politicking. All were released on bail
later in the week. Activists in the UK have launched a civil suit in London
against five British citizens who occupy high-ranking roles in the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and are accused of perpetuating acts of brutality against protesters over the past year, seeking to draw a direct line between current events and the island’s colonial history.