Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from mainland China, U.S. declares

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2020

Pompeo's remarks comes after China's National People's Congress announced its intention to unilaterally impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, a move seen as further undermining Hong Kong's autonomy which the Beijing government promised to maintain under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a United Nations -filed global treaty.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters the Trump administration was considering suspending Hong Kong's preferential tariff rates for exports to the United States as part of its response to China's plan. The key tenets of the legislation include an assessment of harassment and threats to Uighurs and other Chinese nationals in the U.S., and assessment of China's acquisition of technology for surveillance of persecuted minorities. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou failed Wednesday to persuade a Canadian judge to end extradition proceedings, keeping her under house arrest in Vancouver as the fight against USA efforts to prosecute her moves forward.

The spokesperson said that no country would allow any activities that endanger its national security on its own territory, adding that the Central Government is responsible for upholding national security in China, as is the case in any other country.

The U.S. action hits Hong Kong after a year of often-violent protests and the Covid-19 pandemic that has slammed its economy. One option is to target Communist Party officials accused of human rights violations with measures such as freezing of US assets and cancellation of visas.

But Chinese authorities and the Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong say there is no threat to the city's high degree of autonomy and the new security law would be tightly focused.

The move triggered the first big street unrest in Hong Kong in months on Sunday, with police firing tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters.

The US move comes amid protests in Hong Kong as police fired pepper ball rounds at protesters in the city's commercial district ahead of a debate in the legislature on Wednesday.

Tensions over Hong Kong have combined with accusations over blame for the pandemic and military posturing across the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea, to drive US-China relations to a risky new low.

United States lawmakers passed a law in 2019 to support pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, but it required the city remain autonomous and able to maintain its separate status with the USA for trading purposes.

Kudlow said Washington would welcome back any American companies from Hong Kong or China's mainland.

"They have to thread the needle of coming down on Mainland and Hong Kong officials who support this while not being seen as attacking the Hong Kong people", he said.

It will protect the law-abiding Hong Kong citizens, who are the overwhelming majority, guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of Hong Kong residents and foreign institutions and personnel in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act also requires the State Department to issue an annual report on Hong Kong's autonomy, which prompted Pompeo's declaration on Wednesday.

In another point of conflict between the US and China, Huawei Technologies Co. In 2019, 12% of China's exports went to or through Hong Kong, down from 45% in 1992.

Now, that status appears in jeopardy with the Trump administration's reappraisal.

"It's something you're going to be hearing about. before the end of the week - very powerfully I think".

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobby urged Beijing to de-escalate the situation, saying it would be "a serious mistake" to jeopardize Hong Kong's special status.

Specific details of the security bill remain unclear, and will not be enacted until later.

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