Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially informed Congress that the city of Hong Kong is “no longer autonomous from China,” Wednesday, heralding the end of democracy in the city.
Today, I reported to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, given facts on the ground. The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 27, 2020
The announcement comes days after the Chinese Communist Party imposed new national security restrictions on the city. Massive protests ensued and Chinese authorities arrested hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators.
“Beijing’s disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-filed international treaty,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Hong Kong has for decades been a stronghold of Western-style democracy within communist China, but Chinese Leader Xi Jinping’s regime has increasingly encroached on its autonomy. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Josh Hawley Says China’s National Security Law ‘Will Mean The End Of Democracy In Hong Kong’)
Hong Kong protesters demonstrated in large numbers throughout 2019 after city officials nearly passed an extradition bill that would have allowed residents to be transferred to the Chinese legal system, but the CCP’s latest move has gone far beyond that.
The U.S. has traditionally afforded Hong Kong special treatment due to its unique freedoms, but Pompeo’s message to Congress may end its special status with the U.S.
It is the State Department’s responsibility to verify Hong Kong’s autonomy from China under treaties made when the British government ceded control of the city in 1997, according to Fox News. Pompeo now says the city “does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.”
Trump himself stated in a Tuesday press briefing that he didn’t see how Hong Kong could maintain its status as a global financial hub once under China’s control. His administration has expressed solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, but it has not announced any retaliatory measures.