Acting on Tuesday’s deadline, Trump has also signed a bill approved by the US Congress to penalize banks doing business with Chinese officials who are implementing the new security law.“Today I signed a law and an executive order to hold China accountable for its aggressive actions against the people of Hong Kong,” said Trump.
“Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China,” he added.
According to a White House fact sheet, the decree provides for the revocation of special treatment for Hong Kong passport holders.
Critics of security law fear that it will crush the broad freedoms promised in Hong Kong when it returned to power in 1997.
Security law punishes what Beijing broadly defines as subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, up to life imprisonment.
US relations with China have already been strained because of the global coronavirus pandemic, China’s military build-up in the South China Sea, its treatment of Uighur Muslims and massive trade surpluses.
The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a law protecting freedom of expression, assembly and the press until 2047 under “one country, two systems”.
The legislation Trump has signed calls for sanctions against Chinese officials and others who help violate Hong Kong’s autonomy, and financial institutions that do business with those allegedly involved in any crackdown on the city.
Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has raised doubts about the possibility of winning re-election on November 3 amid a wave of new infections. He tried to divert the blame on China.
“Make no mistake. We hold China fully responsible for hiding the virus and spreading it around the world. They could have stopped him, they should have stopped him. It would have been very easy to do at the source, when that happened, ”he said.
When asked if he plans to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said, “I do not intend to speak to him. ”
In rambling remarks, Trump spent much of his appearance at Rose Garden criticizing his Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden. The two candidates are forced to participate in campaign rallies active by the virus and fear that the participants will be infected.
Ending China’s special economic status could be a double-edged sword for the United States. Hong Kong was the source of the largest US bilateral trade surplus last year, at $ 26.1 billion, according to data from the US Census Bureau. It is also a major destination for American legal and accounting affairs. More than 1,300 American companies have offices there.
In May, Trump responded to China’s plans for the security law by saying that it was initiating a process to eliminate the special economic treatment that allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial center.
He was quick to call for the immediate lifting of privileges, but said these measures would affect the full range of US agreements with Hong Kong, from an extradition treaty to export controls on dual-use technologies. .
An American official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the administration was also preparing sanctions against Chinese officials and entities involved in the crackdown on Hong Kong, including new travel bans in the United States and possible Treasury sanctions.