Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo notified Congress on Wednesday that the Trump administration no longer regards Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China. The notice sets the stage for the US to withdraw the preferential trade and financial status that the former British colony has enjoyed since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, the AP reports. "Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997," Pompeo said in a statement. Pompeo’s decision was not accompanied by a revocation of any specific privileges but comes amid calls for the US and others to react against Beijing’s move to impose Chinese national security laws over the territory. More:
- "Beijing’s disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty," Pompeo said. "No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground."
- Under the terms of the Sino-British declaration, Hong Kong was to have enjoyed significant autonomy from the communist government in Beijing for 50 years starting in 1997. That autonomy was to have included protections for free speech and self-rule under what China has termed a "one country, two systems" policy.
- Last week, however, after years of mounting protests against encroachments into Hong Kong's autonomy, China’s ceremonial parliament moved to enact a national security law for Hong Kong aimed at forbidding secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism.
- Earlier Wednesday, police in Hong Kong arrested around 300 people protesting the security law and a bill that would make it illegal to insult or abuse China's national anthem, RTHK reports.
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