On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed a bill sanctioning officials in China and Hong Kong responsible for the Hong Kong national security law, as well as banks that conduct “significant transactions” with them. He also announced in a Rose Garden press conference—which largely strayed into a campaign rally speech against former Vice President Joe Biden—that he issued an executive order stripping Hong Kong of preferential trade treatment since it no longer maintained a high degree of autonomy.
The U.S. will also end other agreements: an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, the Fulbright student exchange program with Hong Kong and China, and joint training programs for the Hong Kong Police Force. Meanwhile the U.S. will increase the number of Hong Kong refugees it allows in. (Another bill in Congress would give Hong Kong residents refugee status if they fear punishment for protesting peacefully.) The order also blocks the U.S. assets of anyone deemed responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s freedom.
“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. “Their freedom has been taken away; their rights have been taken away.”
China’s foreign ministry quickly responded that it would retaliate “to protect its legitimate interests and impose sanctions on relevant U.S. personnel and entitles,” but did not elaborate.
The next day, Pompeo further said the United States would impose visa restrictions on Chinese tech firms including Huawei, which he called “an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state that censors political dissidents and enables mass internment camps in Xinjiang and the indentured servitude of its population shipped all over China.” It was a reference to Uighurs who “graduate” from re-education camps and become forced laborers in other parts of the country.
Influenced by the U.S., British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his government would ban the purchase of new 5G mobile equipment from Huawei and get rid of existing Huawei parts in its 5G network by 2027.
Despite other divisions within Congress, punishing China for its actions is largely bipartisan. After Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of the Chinese Communist Party, called on Trump to “take strong, strategic action to hold Chinese officials accountable.”
She added: “We must consider every tool at our disposal, including visa limitations and economic penalties, to keep alive the hopes for freedom, justice and real autonomy for the people of Hong Kong.”