Washington has hardened its standoff with Beijing by adopting sanctions against eleven leaders in hong kong, including the chief executive Carrie Lam, at the same time radical measures against the crown jewels of the digital chinese TikTok and WeChat.
The u.s. government announced Friday the freezing of assets of Ms. Lam, secretaries, Security and Justice or even the chief of the police, accused of trying to restrict the autonomy of the territory and “the freedom of expression or assembly,” of its inhabitants.
“The United States to support the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and our authorities to target those that infringe on its autonomy,” said the secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.
A top official of Hong Kong, the Commerce secretary Edward Yau, has called “the wild, disproportionate and unreasonable”.
“If the United States is leading unilaterally this type of action unreasonable, it will affect the american companies”, he warned.
A little later, the representation office of the chinese government in Hong Kong has also condemned the us sanctions as “barbaric and uncouth”.
“The negative intentions of the american politicians to support people who are anti-chinese and of sowing the disorder in Hong Kong have been revealed to the great day,” said the bureau in a press release.
The u.s. sanctions are a response to the adoption by China in June, a national security law in the former british colony which, according to its critics, causes a decline in freedoms unprecedented since the handover of Hong Kong to China by the United Kingdom in 1997.
According to Beijing, the act helps to ensure the stability, to put an end to the violence that marked the protests of 2019 in Hong Kong, as well as to suppress the current pro-independence.
But for the western countries, also concerned about the postponement of the elections in Hong Kong under the pretext of a pandemic, the text is intended to muzzle the opposition in hong kong after the demonstrations last year, protesting against the influence of Beijing in the territory.
In retaliation, the us president, Donald Trump had announced in mid-July to the end of the economic regime of preferential granted by the United States in the autonomous territory, major international financial center, and had enacted a law providing for sanctions against officials in the hong kong and chinese.
Meanwhile, the climate has soured between the two great powers. Accusing China of espionage, Washington has closed its consulate in Houston (Texas), and China has taken possession of the U.s. consulate in Chengdu, in south-west China.
The United States has also taken a stand against Beijing in territorial disputes in the south China sea and accused of violating the rights of the minority uighur muslim.
But it is in the sphere of technology, the hardening is the most radical.
Donald Trump has signed on Thursday a decree prohibiting, within 45 days, any transaction, “persons under u.s. jurisdiction” with ByteDance, the house chinese mother of TikTok, a application video mild extremely popular with young people.
The us president has also adopted a decree similar on the platform WeChat, which belongs to the chinese giant Tencent, and is omnipresent in the lives of the Chinese (e-mail, remote payments, bookings…).
The republican president has invoked a “national emergency”, accusing the two applications to spy on their users with us to the account of Beijing.
The decrees do not specify the practical consequences. But the prohibition on any transactions with the two companies could force Google and Apple to remove the two networks in their app stores, preventing, in fact, the use in the United States.
The United States, “lead handling and a crackdown on arbitrary policies, this will lead only to their own moral decline, and on an infringement of their image,” said Friday, a spokesman for the chinese ministry of foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin.
TikTok has threatened to take legal action against the us decision, while Tencent examined in detail the decree to decide the reaction to bring.
Donald Trump had agreed on Monday to the possibility that an american group buys TikTok, but before September 15, under penalty of ban the platform.
It was the passage required that a “significant proportion” of the transaction price to be paid to the State, under the pretext that his government made the development possible. A concept that has aroused sharp criticism and a certain embarrassment in his entourage.
The it group Microsoft, which seems to accept these terms and conditions, is in discussions with ByteDance to negotiate an acquisition at a brisk pace.
In this context of tensions, the China, who judge Donald Trump “unpredictable”, would prefer that he did not win the second term at the presidential election of 3 November, have estimated the us intelligence services, noting that Beijing had “increased its influence campaign” to the approach of the election.