Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the United States has declared Hong Kong “no longer autonomous” and that the Trump Administration believes China is in violation of the treaty, inked with the British government back in the 1990s, during the transfer of power, guaranteeing freedom for Hong Kong residents.
China has been “flexing its muscle,” CNN reports. “Last week, Beijing announced plans to introduce a draconian new national security law for the semi-autonomous Chinese city that could threaten many of its civil liberties and political freedoms.”
“China’s plans have been met with widespread outrage in Hong Kong and elsewhere, particularly as the new law will be imposed without consulting the city’s legislature, though Beijing-backed local government leaders have thrown their support behind the plan,” the network said on Monday.
The United States was among the first nations to condemn the move, with Pompeo announcing late last week that China — and companies doing business in and with China — could face economic sanctions unless China releases control over Hong Kong. Over the weekend, American statements on the issue got stronger, as Hong Kong residents took to the streets to protest China’s incursion, leading to hundreds of arrests.
China has been trying to crack down on Hong Kong for nearly a year, setting off dozens of increasingly violent protests by Hong Kong residents when it pressured the island city-state’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, into introducing a bill that would have allowed China to investigate so-called “dissidents” and make arrests inside Hong Kong’s limits. When Hong Kong failed to pass the measure — and the Hong Kong government failed to control the subsequent protests — Beijing said it needed to extend its influence even further.
On Wednesday, Pompeo made his strongest statement on the incident so far, lambasting China for revoking Hong Kong’s autonomy and breaking its treaty with the United Kingdom, inked on the transfer of Hong Kong back in the 1990s.
“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 U.N.-filed international treaty,” the Secretary of State said in a statement, according to Fox News.
“The State Department is required to assess the territory’s autonomy from China, and…on Wednesday Pompeo certified to Congress that Hong Kong ‘does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,’” Pompeo added.
“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” the Secretary of State concluded. “Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, given facts on the ground.”
President Donald Trump hasn’t spoken directly on the issue, though the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in a conference this week that Trump is “displeased” with China’s actions.
There are forces at work, however, according to CNN: “Washington has threatened to revoke Hong Kong’s special trading relationship and potentially even impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, and more than 200 lawmakers from two-dozen countries have signed an open letter condemning the move.”
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