Trump ended Hong Kong trade priorities, reversing banking restrictions

Trump ended Hong Kong trade priorities, reversing banking restrictions

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he was ending trade priorities for Hong Kong and had signed into law a law imposing restrictions on banks over China's dominance in the international finance hub.

At a controversial news conference devastated by attacks on his domestic rivals, Trump declared himself the toughest president on China, emerging as the top enemy in the November election.

Trump announced that he had issued an executive order, which was not immediately issued in Hong Kong, as Beijing recently brought in a tough new security law as it was feared that the restless city would collapse.

"At the White House Rose Garden, Trump said," Hong Kong is now considered China's mainland - with no special powers, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technology.

"Their freedom has been taken away; their rights have been taken away," Trump said.

"And with that, it's going to Hong Kong, because it's no longer competing with free markets. A lot of people are leaving Hong Kong."

Trump said he signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which was passed in Congress earlier this month as Beijing moves forward with the security law.

The new U.S. law authorizes sanctions against Chinese authorities and Hong Kong police, which appear to violate the city's autonomy - and, most importantly, any banks that make significant transactions with them.

The lawmakers hope the new law will force all but regional Chinese banks to choose between ending Beijing's efforts in Hong Kong and trading in US dollars and operating in the world's largest economy.

"This law will give my administration powerful new tools to hold individuals and organizations accountable for ending Hong Kong's independence," Trump said.

- 'Swift reprimand' -

The White House said in a statement that the Hong Kong Autonomy Law, which was to be followed last year, would limit the president's path to waiving sanctions.

But there is good support for the law, which means Congress can repeal any veto.

"Today, the United States has made it clear to China that it cannot continue its attack on Hong Kong without a serious attack on freedom and human rights," said Republican Senator Chris van Holen, a Republican lawmaker.

"The aggression of the Chinese government is characteristic of this sharp rebuke," he said.

Beijing has rejected international warnings by enforcing a security law criminalizing destruction and other crimes in Hong Kong, promising autonomy before returning the territory to Britain in 1997.

The law sent the cold through the financial center, which saw massive and sometimes devastating democracy-protests last year.

China has warned that the primary of the pro-democracy parties attended by 600,000 Hong Kong residents is "serious provocation".

Foreign Secretary Mike Pompey on Tuesday welcomed the primacy and called for Hong Kong's legislative elections in September to be "equally free and fair."

Trump has put pressure on China in many areas, especially on the coronavirus pandemic, which Beijing suppressed when the disease first hit Wuhan.

Critics at home and abroad have accused Trump of seeking to break away from self-imposed criticism of COVID-19 in the United States, the number of deaths that any country has ever experienced.

On Monday, Pompeii also raised the disputed South China Sea, saying most of Beijing's claims were illegal.

The Trump administration last week also imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials over the persecution of more than a million Uyghurs and other Ottoman Muslims.

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