President Donald Trump

Why is President Trump Revoking Hong Kong’s Special Trade Status?

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On Friday, President Donald Trump declared in a press conference that he would start finding a way to revoke Hong Kong’s special status with the U.S., in light of a controversial new security law passed by China’s parliament that would viably bar political protest in Hong Kong. 

This week, China’s parliament passed a national security law for Hong Kong and the National People’s Congress affirmed the bill as it wrapped up a yearly meeting that was held under the coronavirus protocols. 

Trump’s declaration is the most dramatic move that is taken yet against China’s interference in Hong Kong. He expressed that removing the special status would include the removal of the full range agreement between the U.S. and Hong Kong, including the removal of the extradition treaty and the end to export controls for the territory.

Five years before, when Britain gave control of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997, U.S. policymakers consented to continue successfully treat the territory as a separate entity from China. 

In the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, the United States gave Hong Kong’s special status as a part of China and agreements administering a scope of associations including business between the U.S. and Hong Kong that originated before the handover would stay in effect. 

Hong Kong is likewise a key global business center, a status it earned through many years of an open economy and rule of law. Hong Kong has for some time been a business hub for the U.S. drawn by Hong Kong’s free trade policy. 

Trump Administration’s decision to cancel all or parts of Hong Kong’s special trade status could add strains on companies operating there and this move would face retaliation from an angry Beijing. 

Earlier this week, Mike Pompeo decertified Hong Kong’s autonomy, saying “no sensible individual can state today that Hong Kong maintains a high level of autonomy from China, as per ground facts.” 

Beijing’s new national security law, which, if comprehensively deciphered, could seriously confine the freedom of speech and disagreement in Hong Kong, Pompeo added.

Chinese authorities have pushed back on the global criticism that they have violated the announcement, blaming foreign governments for meddling in internal issues and undermining counter-measures for Hong Kong. 

Furthermore, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government cautioned on late Thursday night that if any sanctions are imposed by the U.S., then it would be very harmful to bilateral relations. 

Currently, it’s unclear what will be the consequences of Trump’s statement. Besides its standard of law and relative freedom which helped Hong Kong become global financial capital.  With the end to a special status, will the territory lose its privileges and exemptions, and will that risk Hong Kong’s international reputation?

The U.S. stocks surged after the President’s discourse, reflecting relief among investors that pulling out of a phase one trade deal signed in Jan didn’t aggravate relations with Beijing.

Article CreditCNBC/ Politico/ Vox/ Reuters/ CBS News/ The Hill

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