The United States on Friday threatened to remove Hong Kong of special trade privileges as it led Western countries angrily over China’s shameless attack on the region’s autonomy.
US lawmakers have pressured Hong Kong to take stern action, becoming the latest front in growing tensions between Washington and Beijing, but even some supporters of the region’s democracy movement ask whether “nuclear options” are effective. Will happen.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a proposed national security law, presented Friday for China’s rubber-stamp legislature, “would be the death knell for Beijing’s high level of autonomy promised to Hong Kong.”
The new law will enforce punishment for “sabotage” and other alleged crimes in the city that swept through large-scale and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests last year.
In a show of support for protesters, the US Congress last year approved a law that would end Hong Kong’s preferential trade access to the world’s largest economy if it is now certified as enjoying autonomy Not done – which Beijing promised before regaining control. British colony in 1997.
Pompeo said Beijing’s latest move would “inevitably” affect the State Department’s decision.
“The United States has urged Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, comply with its international obligations, and respect high levels of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties,” Pompeo said, under U.S. law It is important to preserve the special status. ” a statement.
“A nuclear option”
Pompeo had delayed the certification decision, citing the Just-Start Session of the National People’s Congress, and lawmakers had already speculated that President Donald Trump’s administration would shy away from ending Hong Kong’s business situation.
Trump had only reluctantly signed the Hong Kong Act, which Beijing strongly opposed, as he was negotiating a deal to end the trade war with China.
Denis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong, told an American-based audience on Friday that opposition forces in the region praised the American efforts and continued vigil, voicing fears of police action in the coming days.
Yet he cautioned against the risks of the United States and canceled the city’s trading position, while acknowledging that many people in Hong Kong were angry and would retract the move.
“It’s almost like a nuclear option, once used, everyone will be hurt, and Hong Kong will be very difficult to stand up again,” Kwok told the Conservative Heritage Foundation.
Kwok said the most effective leverage would be how investors would be emboldened by the narrowness of autonomy in Hong Kong, one of the world’s pre-eminent financial capitals.
He said, ‘If China is so stupid that it can believe they can get away from Hong Kong and they don’t need an international financial center, then it is certainly not something they would otherwise refuse to do Could.
Trump’s senior economic adviser Kevin Hesett told reporters at the White House that a “disdain for the rule of law” would be very bad for the Chinese economy. ”
“Most dangerous moment”
Hong Kong is only a flashpoint among the top two economies in the world, the United States and China.
Trump and Pompeo have accused Beijing of being responsible for the coronovirus epidemic for not acting more quickly – an argument that critics say is meant to deal with Trump’s own crisis.
Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, warned that Pacific powers were “their most dangerous moment” since relations normalized four decades ago.
Haas wrote on Twitter, “There is a growing list of disagreements (Hong Kong but most recent), but there is no strategic rationale to limit the relationship or friction. Both countries stand to lose.”
With widespread bipartisan support, the Congress is trying to ease the pressure.
Following China’s announcement on the law, two senators, Republican Pat Tommy and Democrat Chris Van Hollen, proposed a law that would ban anyone involved in Hong Kong’s autonomy, including banks.
Trump’s key aide, Senator Marco Rubio, said Hong Kong showed that China would “lie to get any deal”.
Martin Lee, considered the grandfather of Hong Kong’s democracy movement, gave a similar signal to the Heritage Foundation, warning that Beijing may again attack Trump’s cherished trade deal.
“If Beijing can (have) an agreement with an international agreement registered with the United Nations, Beijing will be encouraged to break more international agreements with other countries for this,” Lee said.