Carrie Lam is amongst the 11 Mainland and Hong Kong officials recently sanctioned by the government of the United States. As her younger son Joshua Lam Yeuk-hay is a graduate student in the United States, public concern about his situation and status has grown. FactWire recently attempted to contact Joshua Lam and learned that starting on July 25, his roommate had begun losing contact with him. On July 27, Lam responded to his roommate on Facebook about ‘a family emergency’ that required him to urgently return to Hong Kong. Lam then sent an email to his landlord confirming that he would continue leasing his apartment until August 2021. However, no contact has been made since then.
FactWire contacted Lam’s landlord upon a visit to his address in Boston, Massachusetts. The landlord told FactWire that she had been in touch with Lam’s roommate, who contacted her on July 25 to ask if she knew of his whereabouts. Later, the landlord decided to give Lam a call, only to hear Announcement 24 from Lam’s wireless carrier Verizon, ‘This call cannot be completed because there are restrictions on this line. Announcement 24.’
Two days later on July 27, the landlord was told by Lam’s roommate that he had contacted them through Facebook about having to return to Hong Kong for a ‘family emergency’.
That same day, the landlord emailed Lam asking him if he would continue renting the apartment as he had not renewed the lease for the next year (September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021). Email records show that the landlord emailed Lam at 10:33am on July 27, letting him know that the call placed on July 26 had not gone through, and that if he would like to continue leasing the apartment she would reserve it for him. That same night at 9:31pm, Lam responded ‘I will rent the entire apartment for the year Sept 1st, 2020 to August 31st, 2021. Please send me the lease to sign.’
As of August 7, Lam has not signed the lease nor responded to the landlord’s multiple emails. However, rent payment was received through a payment application on August 1. The landlord was also told by Lam’s roommate that his personal belongings remain in the apartment.
Lam had previously rented another apartment in Boston, Massachusetts. A woman and a man answered the door when FactWire visited the apartment. The man and Lam shared the same alma mater, who remarked that he used to meet with Lam every week until he recently became too busy. The woman who stood beside the man said that the last time she saw Lam was on July 13 when he came to pack up his belongings and collect his mail. The man immediately tried to call Lam only to be answered again by Verizon’s Announcement 24, ‘This call cannot be completed because there are restrictions on this line. Announcement 24.’ Both pointed out that Lam’s phone line had always been reachable prior to that point. They found it weird and alarming that his phone line was answered by Verizon’s Announcement 24 and were both very worried about Lam’s situation.
According to information obtained through the internet, Announcement 24 is a notification enabled by the wireless carrier Verizon when an account is restricted. There can be several reasons for the restrictions including the failure to pay a phone bill.
Lam did not further elaborate upon the ‘family emergency’ beyond his first message to his roommate. FactWire attempted to contact Lam’s colleagues and supervisors within his mathematics department at Harvard University, including multiple calls to his supervisors that have gone unanswered with the line disconnected after several attempts.
FactWire contacted the Office of the Chief Executive about whether or not Lam is currently in Hong Kong. No response has been received thus far.
On August 7, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against 11 Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese officials. Apart from the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Carrie Lam, the list of sanctioned officials includes Commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) Chris Tang, Former Commissioner of HKPF Stephen Lo, HKSAR Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu, HKSAR Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng, HKSAR Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Xia Baolong, Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Xiaoming, Director of the Hong Kong Liaison Office Luo Huining, Director at the Office for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Zheng Yanxiong, and Secretary General for the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR Eric Chan.
All property, interests in property, directly and indirectly owned entities of 50 percent or more in the United States by the sanctioned individuals above have been blocked and must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In addition to barring transactions between U.S. persons and the sanctioned individuals, the President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization prohibits the sanctioned individuals and their immediate family members from entering the United States.