US criticises China, affirms Hong Kong lost special status

WASHINGTON: The US reaffirmed on Wednesday (Mar 31) that Hong Kong has lost its autonomy from China as it vowed to pressure Beijing for dismantling the city’s special status.

A day after China approved a radical overhaul of Hong Kong’s political system, Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a required report to Congress found that the financial hub “does not warrant different treatment under US law” from the mainland.

Beijing’s actions over the past year “have severely undermined the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong,” Blinken said in a statement.

The finding renewed a decision by former president Donald Trump, who stripped Hong Kong’s separate privileges that it enjoyed with the US since its 1997 handover from Britain to China including by suspending an extradition treaty.

“I am committed to continuing to work with Congress and our allies and partners around the world to stand with people in Hong Kong against the PRC’s egregious policies and actions,” Blinken said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Pointing to sanctions imposed on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, Blinken said: “We will impose consequences for these actions.”

READ: China’s parliament approves Hong Kong electoral system reform plan, says senior politician

READ: US condemns China moves to further reduce Hong Kong political participation

Beijing on Tuesday bypassed the Hong Kong legislature and imposed new measures that include vetting anyone standing for public office and slashing the number of directly elected politicians.

It was Beijing’s latest move, including a tough security law, seen as trying to snuff out a democracy campaign that in 2019 saw massive and sometimes violent protests.

Chinese leaders promised to allow Hong Kong a separate system before the handover from Britain, an agreement that the United States and other Western nations say has been violated.