A Bad Day For Beijing In North America

TO LITTLE SURPRISE in these febrile times for China-US relations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that Hong Kong has lost its autonomy from China, and thus put at risk the city’s preferential trade treatment by the United States.

Last year, the US Congress passed legislation that requires the US State Department to certify annually that the city remains autonomous. In a statement, Pompeo said:

After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that 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. No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.

The statement comes hard on the heels of Beijing’s announced intention to write a new national security law into Hong Kong’s Basic Law, an intent that has brought hundreds of Hongkonger’s onto the streets in protest. There, they have been met with tear gas, pepper spray and police baton charges.

The State Department announcement paves the way for a range of punitive options for the Trump administration, from asset freezes and travel restrictions for top officials to US President Donald Trump’s favoured sanction of tariffs on Hong Kong exports. The president has promised an indication by week’s end of what he will do.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has repeated the standard line that the national security law for Hong Kong is an internal affair for which it will brook no foreign interference, and warned that “if anyone insists on harming China’s interests, China is determined to take all necessary countermeasures”.

As this Bystander has noted previously, commerce and capital are going to have to choose sides over Hong Kong.

Meng Wenzhou

Meanwhile, the British Colombia Supreme Court in Vancouver has ruled that an extradition request by Washington for Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, can proceed. Meng faces fraud charges in the United States in connection with alleged violations of US sanctions against Iran.

This is far from the end of the matter. A hearing is scheduled for next month on whether Canadian officials acted lawfully while arresting Meng. Even if a Canadian court eventually recommends extradition, which has already cast a dark shadow over relations between Beijing and Ottawa, it will be Canada’s federal justice minister who will take the ultimate decision whether or not to hand Meng over for trial in the United States.

Update: On May 28, the National People’s Congress formally approved the proposal for Beijing to impose a national security law on Hong Kong,

1 Comment

Filed under China-U.S., Hong Kong

One response to “A Bad Day For Beijing In North America

  1. Pingback: UK Excludes Huawei From Its 5G Network | China Bystander

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