Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China in a statement Friday for its proposed national security legislation on Hong Kong, calling it a “disastrous proposal” and urging China to reconsider.
Pompeo also added that the move would violate China’s international obligations and Hong Kong’s status as an autonomous territory, according to Reuters. He further warned China that infringing on Hong Kong’s legal protections would affect economic relations between Hong Kong and the United States, which currently enjoys favorable trade status.
The United States condemns the PRC proposal to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong and strongly urges Beijing to reconsider. We stand with the people of Hong Kong.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 22, 2020
The new national security legislation was introduced Thursday prior to the start of the annual National People’s Congress legislative session, which acts as a rubber stamp for the Communist Party of China. The proposed laws would sidestep Hong Kong’s legislature and expand the power of mainland China’s intelligence agencies in the city, a move that would help China suppress political opposition.
Protests against the Hong Kong government, which is currently led by a pro-Beijing political party, have been a common sight in the city for over a year, starting off as a reaction to an extradition bill but evolving into a broader dispute over Hong Kong’s status. China has promised to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy by upholding the “one country, two systems” principle, a deal that was reached in 1997 when the United Kingdom handed over the city to China.
However, the national security legislation could alter Hong Kong’s status, impacting its relations with the United States. The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, requires an annual assessment on whether the territory is autonomous enough to continue getting special status benefits, including favorable trade status. (RELATED: Hong Kong Protesters Gather On Thanksgiving After Trump Signs Pro-Democracy Legislation)
Pompeo’s statement signaled that an attempt to violate previous agreements on Hong Kong’s autonomy would likely force the United States to rethink its economic ties with Hong Kong and reassess the territory’s status.