human-rights 28 May 2020

Hong Kong ‘no longer autonomous from China’: Pompeo

Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, has said that, following the Chinese government’s announcement of its intention to ‘unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong’, he has certified to Congress that ‘Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.

‘No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,’ he said.

US national security advisor Robert O’Brien recently warned that, in the event of the Secretary of State so certifying, ‘there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China.’

O’Brien added that the Chinese law would trigger provisions in the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was passed by Congress and approved by President Donald Trump last year.

The US official predicted that, if that were the case, Hong Kong would be unlikely to continue to remain a hub for global finance, predicting that international finance companies would leave.

‘It’s hard to see how Hong Kong could remain the Asian financial centre that it’s become if China takes over,’ he said. ‘If all those things go away, I’m not sure how the financial community can stay there. …They’re not going to stay in Hong Kong to be dominated by the People’s Republic of China, the communist party.’

Hong Kong’s stock exchange recently suffered its largest drop in five years following media reports about the bill, which would allow China to bypass Hong Kong’s local government and allow Beijing to rein in demonstrations and free speech.

China has threatened countermeasures against the US if it goes ahead with sanctions over the proposed law.

‘If the US insists on hurting China’s interests, China will have to take every necessary measure to counter and oppose this,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.