TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. Department of the Treasury placed sanctions on two Chinese individuals for Human Rights Day on Thursday (Dec.10), bringing the number of Chinese the U.S. has sanctioned since the beginning of December to 16.
The latest list includes Wan Kuok-koi (尹國駒), the leader of a Macau-based criminal organization, who is accused of graft, and Huang Yuanxiong (黄元雄), the Xiamen police chief accused of contributing to persecution and violence against Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Nicknamed "Broken Tooth," Wan leads the 14 Triad, one of the world's largest criminal organizations, which engages in drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and human trafficking, the Treasury Department said. He accumulated his fortune in Macau's booming gambling industry and has established multiple cultural associations to whitewash his illegal activities abroad.
His World Hongmen History and Culture Association built a powerful business network in Southeast Asia while participating in the development of real estate and cryptocurrencies. The agency pointed out these activities were usually framed as being under the aegis of China's Belt and Road Initiative, a global investment project that aims to boost the country's geopolitical influence.
Wan was imprisoned from 1999 to 2012 for possessing prohibited weapons, money laundering, and loan-sharking. In August, he took the board chairmanship of Malaysian company INIX Technologies Holdings Berhad, one of the major sponsors of "Time," a movie that promotes the Hong Kong police.
Huang is the chief of Xiamen's Public Security Bureau. He stands accused of severe human rights abuses, particularly related to the detention and interrogation of practitioners of the Falun Gong religion.
Some analysts believe Huang's appearance on the list signifies possible sanctions against officials even higher up in the Chinese police system, as the current Deputy Minister of Public Security Wang Xiaohong (王小洪) and Lin Rei (林銳) both ascended from Xiamen's Public Security Bureau.
Chinese state-mouthpiece the Global Times ridiculed the Treasure Department's move as a political ploy cooked up by the U.S. authorities and the Falun Gong since the religious group has been helping President Donald Trump spread rumors of voter fraud since he lost re-election. State media characterized Huang as "a front-line officer dedicated to serving his community."