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Hong Kong was returned to China by the UK in 1997, where the Chinese government agreed to maintain the city’s freedoms until 2047. China has recently been attempting to implement a new security law in the city after protests have been raging since June 2019, over Chinese plans to allow extradition from Hong Kong to the mainland.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the country will be ending all defence exports to Hong Kong.
He also revealed that the US is considering further trade restrictions with the territory.
The US is also taking steps to end the export of dual-use technologies, which can be used commercially and in military, to Hong Kong.
Pompeo said: “The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to eviscerate Hong Kong’s freedoms has forced the Trump administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory.”
Pompeo continued: “The United States is forced to take this action to protect US national security.
“We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China.”
Pompeo previously announced on Friday that Washington plans to impose bias restrictions on Chinese officials involved in the Hong Kong security law, but he didn’t announce any specific applications.
Mr Pompeo said the US visa restrictions apply to “current and former” Chinese Communist Party officials “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy”.
The measures on Hong Kong come at a time of intensified US rhetoric against Beijing as President Donald Trump campaigns for re-election.
Donald Trump responded to China’s Hong Kong plans by announcing he was initiating a process eliminating special economic status for Hong Kong, which allowed it to remains a global financial centre, last month.
Mr Trump said at the White House: “China has replaced this promised formula of ‘one country, two systems’ with ‘one country, one system’.
“The US will also take necessary steps to sanction PRC [People’s Republic of China] and Hong Kong officials directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
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The new Hong Kong security law proposed by Beijing hasn’t been published, meaning no-one knows exactly what measures it entails.
Chinese state media outlets have only referred to the law criminalising secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.
These laws are similarly used in mainland China, primarily to jail critics of the Chinese Communist Party.
Other reports have suggested that the law will allow the Hong Kong chief executive to pick judges for national security cases; for some cases to be tried in mainland courts (which have a 99% conviction rate); for special facilities to be used to detain those arrested under the law; and that the law could potentially be applied retroactively – criminalising behaviour that was perfectly legal in the past.
Chinese embassy spokeswoman Fang Hong said China “opposes the US side’s wrongful decisions” in May, and added that China’s legislation targeted only “a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardise national security.”
She said: “We urge the US to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw the decisions and stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs.”
China and the US have seen flaring tensions over the coronavirus pandemic and trade disputes from the Phase One deal agreed in January.
Chinese officials met on Monday, in an effort to expedite the process of enacting the new law, as they believed it is need to counter pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
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