The United States on Monday announced that it will ban defence exports to Hong Kong and will soon require licenses for the sale of items to Hong Kong that have both civilian and military uses. The move comes as China moves forward with bringing national security law in Hong Kong.
"If Beijing now treats Hong Kong as "One Country, One System," so must we," tweeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Today, the United States is ending exports of @StateDeptPM controlled U.S. origin defense equipment and sensitive @CommerceGov controlled dual-use technologies to Hong Kong. If Beijing now treats Hong Kong as “One Country, One System,” so must we.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 29, 2020
During a press briefing, he said, "The Chinese Communist Party's decision to eviscerate Hong Kong's freedoms has forced the Trump Administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory. As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law, the United States will today end exports of U.S.-origin defence equipment and will take steps toward imposing the same restrictions on U.S. defence and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong as it does for China."
Pompeo also said that the decision has been taken to protect US national security as "we can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China. We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People's Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the CCP by any means necessary".
"It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing's decision to violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration. Our actions target the regime, not the Chinese people. But given Beijing now treats Hong Kong as 'One Country, One System,' so must we," Pompeo said.
The Sino-British Declaration promised that Hong Kong would retain its democracy and democratic rights for at least 50 years after 1997 under what Beijing called the "One Country, Two Systems" policy. Pompeo said the US would continue to review other preferences Hong Kong has enjoyed and "will take additional measures to reflect the reality on the ground in Hong Kong."
Hong Kong has been witnessing anti-government protests since June 2019, with protesters claiming to oppose China's increasing influence on the special administrative region. The latest wave of protests was caused by a security bill specially tailored by Beijing for Hong Kong.
China's legislature is expected to pass a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday that critics say will severely limit opposition politics and freedom of speech in the city.
(With agency inputs)