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Pompeo slaps sanctions on China, Cuba

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This photo taken on March 17, 2020 shows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking at a press conference at the State Department in Washington DC. (Photo by AFP)

Lame-duck US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has slapped "insane" sanctions on China and Cuba despite the ongoing transition to the Biden administration.

Citing the transition of power to the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, Pompeo cancelled on Tuesday all travels scheduled by the State Department.

With just five days left before Pompeo turns in his keys at the State Department, the outgoing secretary slapped new sanctions on several countries.

"We condemn PRC actions that erode Hong Kong's freedoms and democratic processes and will continue to use all tools at our disposable to hold those responsible to account," Pompeo said, referring to the People's Republic of China.

The outgoing Trump administration's "insane" sanctions hit six Chinese nationals over the detention of 55 people in Hong Kong on January 6, including an American lawyer, John Clancey.

Among those taken action against were Tam Yiu-Chung, the Hong Kong delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and You Quan, the vice chairman of the Chinese government group that handles policy toward Hong Kong and fellow former colony Macau.

In addition Sun Qingye, deputy director of the central government’s national security office in the city and three officers with Hong Kong police’s national security unit: Frederic Choi Chin-pang, Kelvin Kong Hok-lai and Andrew Kan Kai-yan were among those sanctioned.

The US had earlier took action against Hong Kong's top leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Pompeo also announced fresh actions on a Chinese steel company and a UAE-based building materials firm for working with Iran Shipping Lines, which is already under US sanctions.

On Friday, the Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on Cuba's interior minister, Lazaro Alberto Alvarez Casas, days after Pompeo said he was putting the island back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

On Monday, Pompeo said in a statement that Cuba was designated as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism" for "repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor Pompeo  to terrorists."

Pompeo pointed to the arrest in 2019 of Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer, who was held in a prison run by the interior ministry "where he reported being beaten, tortured and held in isolation."

"The Castro regime's repression of fundamental freedoms requires the condemnation and action of all countries that respect human dignity," Pompeo said, referring to former presidents Fidel and Raul Castro.

 In the meantime, all eyes are on Biden, who will take office on January 20.

During his campaign rallies, Biden said he would promptly reverse the Trump administration unfair and disastrous policies. 

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