“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China, no special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies,” Trump said on Tuesday during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden.
“Their freedom has been taken away. Their rights have been taken away. And with it, goes Hong Kong, in my opinion, because it will no longer be able to compete with free markets,” Trump added.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that it firmly opposes and strongly condemns the signing of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law. “China will make necessary responses to protect its legitimate interests, and impose sanctions on relevant personnel and entities of the United States,” the ministry said in a statement released on its website.
Trump’s executive order rescinds the special privileges that Hong Kong had been granted by U.S. laws in the areas of national security, foreign policy and economics. Specifically, Washington will end its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, impose limits on exports of sensitive technology to the city and treat Hong Kong passport holders the same as those possessing Chinese passports.
The Hong Kong Autonomy Act requires the government to identify mainland Chinese or Hong Kong officials who have contravened the rights and freedoms promised to Hong Kong before 1997, and then impose sanctions on those individuals and any banks that do business with them.
Although the signing of the bill had been expected, the exchange between Washington and Beijing underscores the uncertainty that Hong Kong faces as tensions between the world’s two largest economies have become especially strained in recent months.
The national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong has been heavily criticized for eliminating many of the freedoms promised to the city when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. It punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign agencies with up to life in prison.