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Trump is moving to free Hong Kong from special U.S. relations

However, the President was not sure how quickly and fully the measures were taken and his comments left many questions unanswered. Stock markets rose after Mr Trump’s speech in the White House rose garden, suggesting that investors feared the president would take even more draconian steps against China, the world’s second largest economy.

Mr. Trump has made a number of complaints against China’s “wrongdoing” and angrily condemned the country’s trade and security practices and his actions against civil liberties in Hong Kong and his influence on W.H.O.

As a punishment, the president said he would begin, with a few exceptions, to deprive Hong Kong of privileges against the United States, including an extradition treaty and trade relations. He said Hong Kong would be subject to export controls that would prevent China from gaining access to certain types of advanced technology, but he did not specify whether the tariffs applicable to mainland imports would be extended to Hong Kong.

“My announcement today will affect all agreements we have made with Hong Kong,” said the president, including “measures to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel area from the rest of China.”

The president said the new Hong Kong security law “extends the reach of China’s invasive state security apparatus to a former bastion of freedom.” He added that Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for restricting freedoms on the territory would be subject to sanctions.

Trump’s decision could have a significant impact on Hong Kong and its 7.5 million residents, many of whom have fought to protect individual freedoms and the rule of law in the face of growing pressure, both of which are central to the territory’s status as a nexus of the global capitalism from the Chinese Communist Party. Trump’s actions could further undermine international confidence in Hong Kong’s ability to maintain its unique identity and advantages as a base for Chinese and foreign companies.

However, several analysts reacted cautiously to the many unknowns about what Mr. Trump would do.

“Although the President’s statements contained a lot of fire and sulfur, there were few details,” said Scott Kennedy, an expert on Chinese economic policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “This could be devastating or of limited importance depending on how the United States does it.”

American executives and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents American companies in Hong Kong, have warned the Trump administration to act hastily to change the special relationship in which the U.S. government gives the territory benefits in terms of tariffs, export controls, and visas granted and law enforcement cooperation that the Chinese mainland does not enjoy.

A foreign ministry spokesman said this week that China will take “all necessary countermeasures” against other nations’ actions on the Hong Kong issue. China relies on Hong Kong as the first stop for financial and commercial transactions. Many relatives of senior party officials do business and own property there. Therefore, they invest in maintaining a positive global perception of the status of the territory. And many Chinese companies raise capital by listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Some experts warned that Mr. Trump’s measures could ultimately give Chinese officials a greater opening in their efforts to consolidate control over the territory.

“The United States has very few options that would help Hong Kong resist Beijing’s efforts to limit its autonomy,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, a government professor at Cornell University.

A confrontation between the two powers over Hong Kong, she added, “would probably do more to hurt Hong Kong than persuade Beijing to change course.”

Flanked by high-ranking national security and economic officials, Mr. Trump delivered a devastating charge of Chinese behavior that reflected an emerging line of attack in the president’s re-election campaign as he tried to distract the blame for his government’s failure to curb the pandemic more than killed 100,000 Americans.

It was not apparent from Mr. Trump’s announcement whether he was issuing a formal executive order to completely end the special relationship with Hong Kong. The government can take gradual measures – for example, Hong Kong goods have the same tariffs as mainland Chinese products in the United States – before relations are severed.

“Export controls, customs, visas, and other measures are on the table, but the potential impact on companies in China, Hong Kong, and the United States is unclear without further details,” said Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, in an email sent declaration.

Trump and the White House officials have announced several measures to punish China. Among other things: barring entry to the United States for graduates or senior students associated with institutions that support “China’s military-civilian merger strategy”, which, according to some American officials, promotes technology theft.

And Mr. Trump also said he was “ending” the “relationship” of the United States with the W.H.O., which he portrayed as the Chinese Communist Party puppet. The president, who had previously suspended funding for the organization, has repeatedly accused the organization and China of ill-treating the outbreak of the corona virus after the pandemic spread in the United States.

Allies of the W.H.O., which receive most of their funds from America, defended the organization and its response to the pandemic, saying it was one of the earliest public health voices to warn of the virus threat.

Mr. Trump was accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the press conference; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; the United States commercial agent, Robert E. Lighthizer; National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien; and the director of the National White House Economic Council, Larry Kudlow.

Mr. Pompeo had previously described the new Chinese National Security Law on Hong Kong as a “deathblow” for the territory, a global financial and trade center that theoretically became semi-autonomous until 2047 under an international treaty signed by the UK and China in 1984 1992 the special relationship established by an American law.

China’s sometimes violent efforts to counter a democracy-friendly protest movement in Hong Kong have sparked a debate within the Trump administration and among its allies about how to respond vigorously. National security falcons, including Mr. Pompeo and Mr. O’Brien, say it is important for the United States to review China’s authoritarianism and defend democratic principles. Business representatives and corporate groups fear a political confrontation that could burden the global markets.

Mr. Trump himself has alternated between exuberant praise for President Xi Jinping from China and furious broadsides about China’s trading practices and the treatment of the initial coronavirus outbreak. In his remarks on Friday, Mr. Trump did not specifically mention the Chinese leader.

“This is a desperate effort by President Trump to distract America from its catastrophic management of the coronavirus pandemic and its repeated failure to hold the Chinese government accountable when it mattered,” said Antony Blinken, former deputy foreign and foreign minister Adviser to Mr. Trump’s likely Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Blinken accused Mr. Trump of “gently treating China against protests against democracy in Hong Kong in the hope of a trade agreement,” and noted that Mr. Trump had previously praised Mr. Xi’s response to the demonstrations.

Some investors feared that Mr. Trump might announce more extreme measures on Friday, such as the abolition of his trade agreement with China.

Tensions over Hong Kong risked widening economic ties, possibly leading to a renewed trade dispute that has led to high tariffs, troubled stock markets and disruption in corporate supply chains in the past two years.

Mr. Trump and his advisors are increasingly dissatisfied with this arrangement. But they face a difficult decision: stick to the deal and risk looking impeccable in an election year, or move away from a pact they saw as Mr. Trump’s signature success with China and risk the farmers who were expected to benefit from causing more pain.

At the moment, they hope that tougher statements will encourage the Chinese to act.

Stephen Vaughn, a former trade official who is now a King & Spalding partner, insisted that China had more to lose.

“If China keeps the deal, the president will benefit from the deal,” he said. “If China fails to comply with the agreement, China will be subject to enforcement, and history shows that enforcement does more harm to China than the United States.”

Alan Rappeport contributed to the reporting.

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