US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday described China's announcement to tighten its control over Hong Kong as unilateral, arbitrary and disastrous , saying the former British colony no longer qualifies to be considered as autonomous under mainland China.
China on Friday introduced the draft of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong in its parliament to tighten Beijing's control over the former British colony, in what could be the biggest blow to the territory's autonomy and personal freedoms since 1997 when it came under Chinese rule.
Hong Kong, an economic powerhouse, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. It has observed a "one country, two systems" policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have. The US over the last few days has expressed concerns over the new Chinese law on Hong Kong and has indicated of taking steps against it.
In a statement, notifying to the US Congress, Pompeo said Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997. The top American diplomat said that he took this decision after carefully studying developments as the State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China.
No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground, he said. Last week, the People's Republic of China (PRC) National People's Congress announced its intention to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, he said.
Beijing's disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms and China's own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty, Pompeo alleged. Pompeo said Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives his no pleasure.
But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself, he said. The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong as they struggle against the CCP's increasing denial of the autonomy that they were promised, Pompeo said.