President Donald Trump announced on May 29 that Hong Kong’s preferential trading status will be stripped, lambasting the Chinese regime for “smothering Hong Kong’s freedom.”
The move came a day after Beijing pressed ahead with enacting a national security law in Hong Kong, a move that critics said could endanger Hong Kong’s status as a global financial hub.
The United States previously treated Hong Kong as a separate entity from mainland China in the areas of trade, investment, and immigration, and has meant that current U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods do not apply to Hong Kong.
At a White House press conference on China policies, Trump said that he will revoke Hong Kong’s special status, and will update U.S. travel advisories, “to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus” following the law’s approval.
The administration will also “take necessary steps” to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials “directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy,” he said. The announcement will also impact a range of U.S. agreements with Hong Kong, including export controls, an extradition treaty, and customs.
The former British colony reverted back to Chinese rule in 1997, whereby Beijing promised to retain its autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework.
“China has replaced its promised formula, ‘one country, two systems,’ with ‘one country, one system,’” Trump said, adding that Beijing’s latest law is “diminishing the city’s long-standing and very proud status.”
“This is a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, the people of China, and indeed the people of the world,” he said.
Two days ago, secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to justify its special treatment under U.S. law, but formally revoking Hong Kong’s special privileges requires an executive order by the president.
While much of the bill’s specifics will be rolled out in the coming months, the draft resolution aims to target any activities the regime deems as “secession, subversion, infiltration, or sabotage.” It would also enable central authorities to send security agencies to Hong Kong.