US President, Donald Trump, signed an executive order last week to end the preferential treatment Hong Kong had been receiving so far. Hong Kong is now going to be treated equally to mainland China, as per the new rules set in the order.
President Trump has also signed another law to carry out sanctions on officials who have cracked down certain rights of Hong Kong.
The special status was received by Hong Kong in 1997 when the Chinese government handed control of the nation to China. The Communist Party of the latter country was given the right to rule Hong Kong as “one country, two systems.”
In exchange, Hong Kong was allowed a high degree of autonomy with its defense and foreign policy determined by the Chinese government.
However, the new security law has placed Hong Kong’s autonomy in risky waters, disrupting the US and Hong Kong Trade relations. It is in reply to this that the new executive order was signed by The US.
Security Law Implications
The law criminalizes the following acts by Hong Kong:
- Succession – Any attempt to break away from mainland China.
- Subversion – Undermining the authority or power of the Chinese central government.
- Terrorism – Using intimidation or violence against people.
- Collusion – Objectionable agreement with external or foreign forces.
The law became effective at 23:00 local time on the 30th of June. Beijing now has the power to shape policies and life in Hong Kong like never before.
What the Executive Order Says
President Donald Trump spoke on the Rose Garden on Tuesday, claiming that the new executive order will end the special treatment being received by Hong Kong.
There will no longer be any special privileges, no export of sensitive tech, and no special economic treatment for Hong Kong. The administration is not paying back the preferential treatment of the country.
President Trump has also signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was passed by Congress unanimously earlier this month. The laws taken into purview in this executive order include:
- The United States Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992
- Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019
- Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020, etc.
The new law will give US administration tools that will have the power to hold any individuals or entities responsible for attempting to curb the freedom of Hong Kong.
The existent punitive tariffs imposed by the US on mainland China will also be applied to the exports of Hong Kong. This order was signed by US President Trump in an attempt to safeguard the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
The order will also allow the freezing of property and interests of people linked to the new national security laws within US territory. This also applies to people who are involved in international abuse of human rights or who limit freedom of expression and penalize the media.
How Did China Respond?
Meanwhile, China has vowed retaliation against the steps taken by the US. The ministry of foreign affairs in China gave a strongly worded response claiming that no country has the right to interfere in what is deemed as China’s internal affairs.
The Chinese government claims that any efforts by the US to thwart the implementation of national security in Hong Kong will be unsuccessful.
China will defend its own legitimate interests by taking any necessary steps. This could mean imposing sanctions on any relevant US entities or individuals.
China has asked that the US correct its mistakes. If, however, the US decides to carry on this path, China has declared that it will also prepare a firm response.
The US has not been the only country to criticize the new security law by China. Countries like the UK have also taken steps to review their pre-existing policies in relation to China.
A large fraction of people within Hong Kong have also spoken strongly against new Chinese policies, supporting the new executive order and giving the US the upper hand. In any case, the new developments do not look good for US-China relations, which have already been strained in the last few years.