The US reacts to China's new security law. Washington will penalise Chinese officials who undermine Hong Kong's autonomy. Checks are expected on imports and entry visas expected. For Chris Patten, there will be “a flight of capital and people.” For the EU, sanctions will not solve problems with China.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The United States will start procedures to scrap the special treatment reserved for Hong Kong. US President Donald Trump made the announcement yesterday in response to China's security law for the city.
China’s parliament, the National People's Congress, adopted the new measure on Thursday. It punishes actions and "activities" that seriously endanger national security.
Now Hong Kong residents can be arrested for subversion, secession, terrorism and collaboration with foreign forces interfering in the affairs of the Special Region.
For Washington, the new legislation violates the "one country, two systems" principle, on which the autonomy of the former British colony from the Chinese mainland is based.
The joint Sino-British declaration of 1984, which governed Hong Kong’s transition from British rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, stipulates that the territory would maintain its more open form of government until 2047.
The Trump administration also plans to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials whose actions undermine the city's autonomy. The US government will introduce tighter controls on entry visas (especially for students) and imports as well as review extradition agreements.
Hong Kong’s Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng slammed the US decision, calling it a violation of international rules, as it is contrary to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another country.
Hong Kong officials minimise the problems with possible US trade sanctions. They note that exports to the United States cover only 0.1 per cent of Hong Kong's total exports.
For several observers, the new law, and the US response, could nevertheless undercut Hong Kong’s position as a global financial centre.
Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor, believes that uncertainty surrounding the city’s future will lead to a flight of capital and people.
Hong Kong is the financial link between western and Chinese economies. About half of China's foreign investment goes through the city's banks, where 2,200 European, 1,400 Japanese and 1,344 US companies are based.
The major economic interests at stake have prompted the European Union to adopt a more cautious approach than that of the United States.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell yesterday expressed the EU's strong concern over the adoption of the new legislation for Hong Kong.
Borrell noted that the law does not conform to China's international commitments, but he also stressed that sanctions will not solve problems with Beijing.
The EU is trying to reach a major investment agreement with China by the end of the year, whose negotiations have dragged on since 2013.