Pompeo: “Hong Kong is no longer autonomous”. The US will take away its special status


NEW YORK – “Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China”. The statement by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is a consequence of the new security law imposed by Xi Jinping to the island-metropolis to put out the protests. But the acknowledgment of Pompeo opens a scenario fraught with consequences: sanctions are inevitable. It is a new step in the escalation of tension between the United States and China. “I take this decision without pleasure – said Pompeo – but a healthy foreign policy requires that reality be recognized. It is now clear that China is shaping Hong Kong in the image and likeness of itself. ” That of the secretary is not only a severe assessment of Beijing’s latest moves: it has almost automatic legal consequences. Congress can now proceed with sanctions.

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.

As early as last week Pompeo said that “circumventing the Hong Kong legislative assembly and ignoring the will of the population is a death sentence for the high level of autonomy that Beijing promised.” Robert O’BrienNational Security Advisor to the president added: “With this security law, they are in fact about to take control of Hong Kong. In this case, the Secretary of State will not be able to certify his autonomy and this opens the way to sanctions. Hong Kong is unlikely to remain the financial center of all Asia and home to many multinationals, a function linked to the existence of a rule of law. ”
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.

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