Hong Kong’s leader said she’s having trouble using her credit cards after the U.S. imposed sanctions targeting Chinese officials and their allies in the city.
“As for myself, of course it will have a little bit of inconvenience here and there, because we have to use some financial services and we don’t know whether that will relate back to an agency that has some American business — and the use of credit cards is sort of hampered,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in an interview with Chinese state broadcaster CGTN posted late Monday. “But those are really meaningless as far as I’m concerned.”
Lam was one of 11 officials sanctioned earlier this month by President Donald Trump’s administration for their roles in curtailing political freedoms in Hong Kong, amid the implementation of new national security legislation imposed on the city by China in June.
Subscribe to Eastworld for weekly insight on what’s dominating business in Asia, delivered free to your inbox.
“The most important thing is we feel honorable that we are, at this historic moment, being trusted by the central people’s government to enforce a piece of national law to safeguard national security,” Lam said. “The more that this attracts the critics of China to attack us, the more effective this piece of legislation is to achieve its intended objective.“
China’s largest state-run banks operating in Hong Kong are taking tentative steps to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed on officials in the city, Bloomberg reported last week, as they seek to safeguard their access to crucial dollar funding and overseas networks. Major lenders with operations in the U.S. including Bank of China Ltd., China Construction Bank Corp., and China Merchants Bank Co. have turned cautious on opening new accounts for the 11 sanctioned officials, people familiar said.
Lam said Tuesday that she would announce a third round of virus-control measures, as she held her first weekly briefing after summer recess for her advisory Executive Council. She didn’t give a time frame, but said authorities would sort out the details quickly.
“There are still infected people in the community, so we must not let down our guard,” she said.
Hong Kong has extended all existing Covid-19 related social distancing measures for a week — to August 25 — as it continues to battle a new wave of cases. There was still no sign of a steadily decreasing trend in new infections, Lam said, adding that she was still concerned that there are many silent carriers in the community.
Lam said she would give her annual policy address on Oct. 14. The press conference was the first time she has faced local media since the arrest last Monday of media tycoon Jimmy Lai under the national security legislation.
Lam is one of the most visible Chinese leaders in the struggle over Hong Kong’s future. Her attempt last year to pass a bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland prompted months of pro-democracy protests, and she’s defended Beijing’s legal right to bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and implement the security law.
The national security measures have fueled concerns about the state of Hong Kong’s autonomy from China, including freedoms of the press and the independence of its judicial system. Both have helped underpin Hong Kong’s reputation as a global financial hub.
More must-read international coverage from Fortune:
- Masks, small classes, and outdoor lessons: How 5 countries in Europe are reopening schools
- The U.S. wanted to starve Huawei of chips. It’s working
- Big Tech defends H-1B visas against Trump’s “un-American” crackdown
- “Irreplaceable”: U.S. WeChat users struggle to imagine life without the app Trump wants to ban
- Want to find the next $10-billion-plus takeover target? Watch executive stock sales carefully