US State Dept notifies Hong Kong it has ended three agreements

The move follows US President Donald Trump’s order last month to end Hong Kong’s special status under US law.

Morgan Ortagus
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, standing beside US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, DC [File: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters]

The US State Department said it notified Hong Kong on Wednesday that Washington has suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements after China imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory.

The ending of the agreements follows US President Donald Trump’s order last month to end Hong Kong’s special status under US law to punish China for what he called “oppressive actions” against the former British colony.

The State Department said in a statement the agreements ended covered “the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons, and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships”.

Trump and Xi

“These steps underscore our deep concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose the National Security Law, which has crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

The Hong Kong government said it “strongly objected” to the US move saying it showed the Trump administration’s “disrespect for bilateralism and multilateralism”.

Urging international condemnation of the US, it added that Hong Kong was being used as a “pawn” in the US-China relationship. 

Trump signed an executive order last month that he said would end the preferential economic treatment for the city following the imposition of the national security law.

The legislation punishes anything China considers secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison and has drawn condemnation from Western countries as well as rights groups, politicians and lawyers. Critics worry the law will end the freedoms promised for at least 50 years when Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Analysts have said US-China ties have deteriorated to their worst level in decades.

Washington this month imposed sanctions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and other current and former Hong Kong and mainland officials whom Washington accuses of curtailing the territory’s freedoms.

The US government has also required goods made in the former British colony for export to the United States to be labelled as made in China after September 25.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies