KEY POINTS

  • National People's Congress last week approved a draft security law to crack down on pro-democracy protests that have rocked Hong Kong
  • Pompeo says the law would undermine Hong Kong's automony
  • Pompeo's assessment does not trigger any immediate action

The State Department on Wednesday notified Congress last week’s action by mainland China suppressing dissent in Hong Kong has undermined the former British colony’s autonomy, disqualifying its U.S. special trade status. The statement is a recommendation and will not trigger any immediate action.

In a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on State’s website and submitted to Congress, the department said the United States stands with Hong Kong, which has been a global financial and commercial hub for decades, in its struggle against China’s effort to exert more control.

China took control of Hong Kong from Britain in 1997.

China’s National People’s Congress last week adopted a draft law aimed at outlawing pro-democracy demonstrations by suppressing what it considers secessionist and subversive behavior, similar to the mainland’s own security law. The action bypasses the city’s own lawmakers, who have resisted adopting such a measure.

The draft law, which is expected to be approved Thursday, sparked violent protests similar to those that rocked the city before the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure has been condemned widely by the international community.

“Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality,” Pompeo said. “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 modeling Hong Kong after itself.”

He added: “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

Hong Kong long has had a favorable trading relationship with the United States, with trade topping $66 billion in 2018. The city also was exempt from tariffs the Trump administration imposed on the mainland.

In Taiwan, which China considers a rogue province, President Tsai Ing-wen said her government would take steps to help residents of Hong Kong to relocate on the island.