The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the autonomy promised by Beijing, stripping the financial centre of its special status under the US law.
Hours before Beijing held a key vote on a controversial new security law in Hong Kong, Pompeo sent a notice to Congress that China was failing to meet its obligations before regaining control of Britain’s territory in 1997.
“Today I certified before Congress that Hong Kong does not continue to guarantee treatment under the laws of the United States in the same way that US laws applied to Hong Kong prior to July 1997,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“No reasonable person today can claim that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given the facts on the ground,” he added.
Under a law passed by Congress last year aimed at supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, the administration has to certify that the territory is still autonomous to enjoy its separate status with the United States for commercial purposes.
Pompeo had initially delayed the report, saying the United States was waiting to see the session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress.
The legislature is expected on Thursday to advance a law that would ban “sedition” and other perceived crimes.
Hong Kong activists say the law effectively removes the basic freedoms that are enjoyed in the financial centre.
“While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modelling Hong Kong by itself,” said Pompeo.
“The United States supports the people of Hong Kong as they fight the CCP’s growing denial of the autonomy they were promised,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.