US President Donald Trump has signed legislation and an executive order to end the special economic status enjoyed for years by China’s semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.
Addressing a Tuesday news conference at the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the executive order was meant to hold China “accountable” for the national security law it imposed on the former British territory.
He said the new order he signed aimed at punishing Beijing for what he called its “oppressive” actions against the people of Hong Kong.
“No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” the president told the news conference.
Acting on a Tuesday deadline, Mr. Trump also signed a bill approved by the US Congress to penalise banks doing business with Chinese officials who implement the new security law.
According to a White House fact sheet, the executive order includes revoking special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.
Critics of the security law fear it will crush the wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
The security law punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.
US-China ties have already been strained over the global coronavirus pandemic, China’s military buildup in the South China Sea, its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjang province and massive trade surpluses.
Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule twenty-three years ago with a law protecting freedoms of speech, assembly and the press until 2047 under the “one country-two systems” policy.