The United States is ending its special treatment of Hong Kong as separate from mainland China, with both the State and Commerce departments announcing actions Monday that will pare back its special status. This comes after Beijing ushered a sweeping national security law through its rubber-stamp parliament last month that will drastically increase mainland China’s control of Hong Kong.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. is taking back some trade benefits it affords Hong Kong by suspending the availability of export license exceptions. He said further actions are also being evaluated.
“With the Chinese Communist Party’s imposition of new security measures on Hong Kong, the risk that sensitive U.S. technology will be diverted to the People’s Liberation Army or Ministry of State Security has increased, all while undermining the territory’s autonomy,” Ross said in a statement. “Those are risks the U.S. refuses to accept and have resulted in the revocation of Hong Kong’s special status.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo separately announced Monday that the U.S. is ending exports of U.S.-origin defense equipment and will impose new restrictions on dual-use technologies.
“The United States Government has taken action to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party’s decision to enact new draconian ‘national security’ legislation for Hong Kong does not result in diversion of munitions and sensitive dual-use items to the People’s Republic of China,” a spokesperson for the State Department told FOX Business.
When the British handed control of Hong Kong back to mainland China in 1997, it did so with a “One country, two systems” arrangement in place that makes Hong Kong semi-autonomous.
America’s special treatment of Hong Kong has always depended on Beijing abiding by this system, but the massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong for the past year roiled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s communist government.
Now the U.S. is ending that special treatment after Beijing ushered a sweeping anti-sedition law through its National People’s Congress last month that critics say will essentially put an end to Hong Kong’s autonomy.
“Hong Kong as we know it is finally dead,” Claudia Mo, an opposition lawmaker in Hong Kong, told The Guardian. “This is the start of a new but sad chapter for Hong Kong.”
Pompeo also put visa restrictions last week on current and former officials of China’s Communist Party who are undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. China responded Monday by doing the same to U.S. officials who have shown “egregious conduct” on Hong Kong-related issues.