Can ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong affect US?

US President Donald Trump signed an order on Tuesday ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong after China imposed a controversial national security law. He said, “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China. No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies. In addition to that, as you know, we are placing massive tariffs and have placed very large tariffs on China.”

“First time this has ever happened to China, billions of dollars have been paid to the US, of which I have given quite a bit to the farmers and ranchers of our country because they were targeted, and that has been going on for three years,” 

“This was the first time anybody did anything like that and prior to the plague pouring in from China, they were having the worst year economically in 67 years,” 

In response, Beijing has warned US of retaliatory actions stating that “Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

What is China’s National Security Law for Hong Kong?

Seeing a rise in protests in Hong Kong, the Chinese regime passed the wide-ranging new security law that makes it easy to punish the protestors. The details’ of the law 66 articles were not unfolded until it was passed. The law criminalizes any act of :

  • Secession – Breaking away from the country
  • Subversion – Undermining the power or authority of the central government
  • Terrorism – Using violence or intimidation against people
  • Collusion with foreign or external forces

All above acts can lead to a maximum sentence of life prison. The law that came into effect on June 30, 2020 considers damaging public property an act of terrorism. Some cases can be shifted to mainland China and trials can be heard behind closed doors. People of Hong Kong are afraid of losing their freedom with this law.

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(Image Courtesy: FocusWashington)
How far can Trump’s action affect America?
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  • With the ending of preferential economic treatment of Hong Kong, more than 1,300 American companies are likely to be affected that run business operations in Hong Kong.
  • Business travel and work visa approvals can face strict Chinese rules with cancellation of visa-free travel access to Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong till now had a zero-tariff rate on imports of US goods primarily because of being treated separately from mainland China’s.
  • Based on US Census Bureau data, Hong Kong was the source of largest bilateral US goods trade surplus in 2019 at $26.1billion.

Washington has long opposed China’s interference in Hong Kong, and somewhere Trump administration had hinted about such a step. With american presidential elections scheduled for November, some speculate this to be a strong step not only against China but also against Joe Biden. Now the question is, how will China retaliate?

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