Trump says US will no longer treat Hong Kong as autonomous region


WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday announced sweeping changes to the US relationship with Hong Kong, declaring the region would no longer be viewed as autonomous from China or given preferential treatment.

In the consequential declaration from the Rose Garden, Trump announced the policy change would apply to most agreements the US has with Hong Kong, including on travel and trade, and include sanctions as China’s Communist government tries to impose a new national security law on the region.

Trump blasted China for “smothering Hong Kong’s freedom” and described the erosion of Hong Kong’s independence under the decades-long “one country, two systems” as “a tragedy.”

“Hong Kong was secure and prosperous as a free society. Beijing’s decision reverses all of that,” Trump said. “It extends the reach of China’s invasive state security apparatus into what was formerly a bastion of liberty.”

“China’s latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory’s freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special treatment that we have afforded the territory,” he continued.

“China has replaced its promised formula of one country, two systems, with one country, one system. Therefore I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment,” he said.

The sanctions will almost certainly damage Hong Kong’s standing as a global financial hub.

Hong Kong’s autonomy had been in effect since Britain returned control of the territory in 1997 and has afforded the city special trading status.

Trump also announced he would issue a proclamation to suspend certain Chinese foreign nationals identified as potential security risks and establish a working group to study the different practices of Chinese companies listed on the US financial markets.

“For years the government of China has conducted illicit espionage to steal our industrial secrets, of which there are many,” he said, adding that his administration would quell Chinese influence in American universities.