human-rights 16 July 2020

As Trump signs sanctions into place, China vows to hit back

US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order under which it is determined that the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (Hong Kong) is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China), and signing into law the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

China has vowed to hit back with its own punishments, escalating tensions that have been growing between the two countries for months.

‘Today I signed legislation, and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong,’ Trump told reporters at the White House. ‘Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China … No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies.’

A statement by the Chinese foreign ministry condemned Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act as ‘a violation of the norms of international relations and a serious interference in China’s internal affairs.’

‘The Chinese government resolutely opposes it and condemns it,’ the statement said. ‘To protect its legitimate interests, China will take necessary action to impose sanctions against related U.S. institutions and individuals.’

Growing economic and diplomatic tensions between the United States and China escalated further in late June, when Beijing imposed the controversial ‘national security’ law in Hong Kong against a background of pro-democracy protests.

Following that move, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Hong Kong’s special status was being revoked because of risks that Washington ‘refuses to accept’.

‘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. ‘Those are risks the U.S. refuses to accept and have resulted in the revocation of Hong Kong’s special status.’