23 May 2020, Washington
The United States on Friday threatened to strip Hong Kong of special trading privileges as Western nations were annoyed over China’s proposed national security law.
US lawmakers are pressing for tough action over Hong Kong, accusing the latter of becoming the latest front in soaring tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The proposed national security law, submitted on Friday to China’s legislature, would be a “death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
According to Pompeo, the new law would enforce punishment for “subversion” and other perceived offences in the city, which was swept by months of massive and occasionally violent protests last year.
In a show of support for demonstrators, the US Congress last year overwhelmingly approved a law that would end Hong Kong’s preferential trade access to the world’s largest economy if it is no longer certified as enjoying autonomy – which Beijing promised before regaining control of the then British colony in 1997.
Reacting to the new law, Pompeo stated that Beijing’s latest moves would “inevitably” influence the State Department’s decision.
“The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions and civil liberties, which are keys to preserving its special status under US law,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Trump had only reluctantly signed the Hong Kong Act, which was strongly opposed by Beijing, as he was negotiating a deal to end a trade war with China.
(With inputs from Agencies)