Washington has added another dimension to the White House’s post-election fantasy, in which President Donald Trump did not lose, but won. The US State Department has gone ahead with an extension of sanctions against Hong Kong , even though its boss, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is now part of a lame-duck administration with only two months left. It announced the inclusion of four government officials deemed responsible for a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy activists, expanding a list that has also targeted Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other principal officials in response to Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on the city. “[China] and Hong Kong-based officials continue to dismantle the autonomy and freedoms of Hong Kong through politically motivated arrests,” Pompeo said. The latest measures were “in connection with … threatening the peace, security, and autonomy of Hong Kong”. That was before a National People’s Congress Standing Committee ruling paved the way for the disqualification of four opposition lawmakers. The new sanctions include Edwina Lau Chi-wai, head of the local Committee for Safeguarding National Security; Li Jiangzhou, a deputy director of China’s Office for Safeguarding National Security; and police senior superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah. While the sanctions may involve inconvenience and have implications especially for officials from Hong Kong, they have limited effect overall and are largely a futile exercise. Like it or not, and notwithstanding misgivings about some aspects of the national security law, peace and security on the streets have been hallmarks of Hong Kong life since it took effect in July. The third issue raised by Pompeo, the city’s autonomy, cannot be under threat on those counts. Hopefully, a use-by date for Hong Kong as a pawn in a wider contest will expire when president-elect Joe Biden’s administration takes over. He needs to strive for a constructive balance in relations with China that is missing under the current administration. Getting rid of these meaningless but symbolically affronting sanctions against a city with which the United States has an important financial and economic relationship would be a good beginning.