President Donald Trump signed an order to end preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong, after China enacted a new security law there.
Hong Kong would be treated “the same as mainland China”, Mr Trump said. “No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” said the president, who first announced in May that his administration would begin paring back the territory’s special status.
“This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom.”
He also signed a law to impose sanctions on officials who cracked down on rights.
China has strongly criticised the move, vowing to take retaliatory action. China’s foreign ministry said the country would also impose retaliatory sanctions against US individuals and entities to “safeguard China’s legitimate interests”.
“The US attempt to obstruct the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong will never succeed,” the statement said.
“We urge the US side to correct its mistakes, refrain from implementing the act and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs in any way. China will firmly respond if the US goes ahead.”
National Security Law:
The law came into force on 30th June, night 11pm with four categories of offences – secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security.
The punishment varies between a life to a three year imprisonment.
‘Anti-nationals’ can be extradited to mainland China from Hong Kong. The law also subverts the Hong Kong judiciary as only Beijing appointed judges can hear such matters. Even foreign nationals could face action under this law if they are found to be anti-Beijing.
The US sees the security law as a threat to the freedoms Hong Kong has enjoyed under a 1984 agreement.
That special status was agreed between China and Hong Kong’s former colonial power, the UK, before sovereignty was returned to Beijing in 1997.
The new security law is China’s most sweeping change to the political landscape of Hong Kong since then.