As US signs Hong Kong Sanctions Bill, China threatens retaliation

Ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong and holding China directly accountable for violation of democracy and human rights, US President Donald Trump, while reiterating his commitment to stand by the people of Hong Kong, signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act.

US sanctions on Hong Kong come close on the heels of the controversial new security law steamrolled by China which drew global condemnation with analysts dubbing it as a means of suppressing all forms of dissent by residents of Hong Kong by Xi’s administration. The law criminalises offences it broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation sent a chill through Hong Kong, which last year saw massive, and sometimes violent, pro-democracy protests.

 Spelling out that the order would end preferential treatment for Hong Kong, President Trump told a news conference, “no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies” would be extended any further.

“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China. This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom. Their freedom has been taken away, their rights have been taken away,” President Trump said.

President Trump accused China of violating obligations vis-a-vis Hong Kong. “China has violated longstanding obligations on the issue, reversing Hong Kong’s status as a free society and endangering its innocent residents. These actions are a blatant violation of China’s promise to Great Britain that it would keep Hong Kong free and open until the year 2047,” he said.

China has been quick to hit back and warned the United States of repercussions. Slamming US sanctions related to Hong Kong, China’s foreign ministry said it “firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was unanimously passed the US Congress earlier this month and approves sanctions on Chinese officials and banks over Beijing’s clampdown in Hong Kong.

“China will make necessary responses to protect its legitimate interests, and impose sanctions on relevant US personnel and entities,” the ministry added. Government’s mouthpiece The Global Times also has been carrying a series of reports to show how the move could end up hurting US more.

The story for sure is far from over.

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