The crisis alters a status quo that it has held for 23 years. Respect for the 1997 pact is fundamental for the United States: at the time when the United Kingdom transferred Hong Kong to China, the latter (then led by Deng Xiaoping) made a solemn commitment to the international community. Hong Kong would maintain an autonomous statute, in particular of the rules of the rule of law such as freedom of demonstration, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, very different from Chinese legislation. Everything falls apart with the imposition of the new security law, which extends the powers of a police state over Hong Kong. The diversity of Hong Kong has had enormous consequences, in the privileged treatment that the United States reserves for that metropolis: now this will change. Once the privileges and special treatments have been canceled, Hong Kong can say goodbye to its role as a financial center, home to multinationals.
The US administration is required every year to guarantee before Congress that Hong Kong is autonomous. It is a requirement for Congress to renew the special conditions enjoyed by the island: for example, the exemption from tariffs affecting China, or the exemption from the embargo on supplies of advanced technologies against Chinese companies. In the commercial, financial sphere, even in the bilateral agreements on flights and visas, the United States treats Hong Kong as a separate entity, to its great benefit. But an escape of western multinationals from Hong Kong perhaps today would only ratify a fact: China is not that of 1997 and Deng Xiaoping, does not believe it needs an offshore square, and for years it has already been downsizing Hong Kong’s role in favor of Shanghai and Shenzhen. However, sanctions are also ready at the Washington Congress that would affect those Chinese leaders directly responsible for the crackdown on Hong Kong.