Hong Kong’s being dragged into US President Donald Trump’s rivalry with Beijing was inevitable. His administration’s imposition of economic sanctions against 11 officials , Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor among them, for their role in the implementation of a national security law, had been foreshadowed. The foreign ministry’s tit-for-tat measures against the same number of Americans was also to be expected. But no matter how the measures are perceived, the negative impact cannot be denied. Under the sanctions, American citizens, organisations and institutions and foreign nationals with US-based assets are generally barred from dealings with those named. Some local and foreign banks and companies have good reason for anxiety given the confusion caused by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which claims the city is only obliged to follow penalties imposed by the United Nations. There is also a tendency for companies in countries allied to the United States to adhere to its sanctions regime. Firms are now literally caught between a rock and a hard place, having to choose sides and suffer the consequences. In announcing the names of those affected by the measures last Friday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to justify the action by claiming his country stood “with the people of Hong Kong, and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their authority”. But such an approach will do nothing to help the cause of protesters who have for more than a year been agitating for greater democratic freedoms, and will instead have the opposite effect. Foreign interference in internal affairs is a red line for Beijing and the US has a long record of using covert operations and military force to destabilise or overthrow governments. Beijing will only do more to ensure national security loopholes are plugged. But the Trump administration’s bid to prevent China’s economic and technological rise is heightening amid the US’ Covid-19 crisis and approaching presidential election. Its heeding the calls for support from opponents of Beijing and the government was assured. Washington’s removal last month of the city’s special trading status was claimed to be aimed at punishing authorities for eroding promised freedoms. The provisions harm long-standing ties and special business and trade links between Hong Kong and the US. There are no winners from such action, with people and firms on all sides being affected. Hong Kong, its international image damaged and also fighting the coronavirus, has to find a way to shore up its appeal to global business and investment. The Trump administration shows no sign of giving up its fight with Beijing. The city is famous for its resilience to crises, but it has to prepare for even tougher times.