Hong Kong draconian law: Mike Pompeo says US won't stand idly, warns China of quashing territory's special status

The secretary of state said it was a 'sad day' for Hong Kong as Beijing took the step on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the city's return to China


                            Hong Kong draconian law: Mike Pompeo says US won't stand idly, warns China of quashing territory's special status
Mike Pompeo (Getty Images)

The US-China relations witnessed another low moment as Washington threatened Beijing with new countermeasures after the latter imposed draconian national security laws on Hong Kong. The US came up with a strong reaction after China on Tuesday, June 30, unveiled its stringent national security law being imposed on Hong Kong whereby crimes of sedition and secession will be punished. The Chinese legislature approved the law on the eve of July 1, which marks the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to the country from UK in 1997. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China’s enactment of the contentious new law a “sad day for Hong Kong, and for freedom-loving people across China” and reiterated that the White House is committed to abolishing the city’s special status under American law. In May end, the US administration warned that Hong Kong no longer merited a special status in trade affairs and the territory could be treated the same way as mainland China. President Donald Trump’s top adviser Larry Kudlow said China “will be held accountable” for its new security law for Hong Kong. 

Protesters at Hong Kong International Airport during a demonstration on August 12, 2019. Pro-democracy protesters demonstrated on the streets against a controversial extradition bill. (Getty Images)

“Per President Trump's instruction, we will eliminate policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, with few exceptions," Pompeo said in a statement on Tuesday night, adding: “The United States will not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong into its authoritarian maw.”

Pompeo also slammed China in a series of tweets. In one, he said: “The CCP’s draconian national security law ends free Hong Kong and exposes the Party’s greatest fear: the free will and free thinking of its own people.” In another, the state secretary said: “Today, the United States is ending exports of @StateDeptPM controlled U.S. origin defense equipment and sensitive @CommerceGov controlled dual-use technologies to Hong Kong. If Beijing now treats Hong Kong as “One Country, One System,” so must we.” Washington took the move in the wake of China’s new national security law. 

Trump tweets about China but doesn't mention Hong Kong

Trump also tweeted about China on Tuesday though he did not mention Hong Kong and targeted Beijing only for the spread of the coronavirus that has hit the US hard. In his post, he said he was becoming “more and more angry at China” over the pandemic but mentioned nothing about the new situation in Hong Kong. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the President earlier to deploy sanctions against China under the 2016 Magnitsky Act and to take measures under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

“We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties,” the 80-year-old Congresswoman said in a statement.
 
While Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam welcomed China’s legal move as the “most important development” since the city went back to the Chinese 23 years ago, the western world led by Washington expressed fears that it will see a new era of political repression with which mainland China is often identified. 

Ahead of Hong Kong's handover in 1997, China guaranteed it civil liberties as well judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years in a deal called “One Country, Two Systems”. "(China) promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people, and gave them only 23," Pompeo said.

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