Trump moves to scrap Hong Kong special treatment, cuts ties with WHO

Daniel Fowler
May 31, 2020

Trump's move came after China's ceremonial parliament voted Thursday to bypass Hong Kong's legislature and develop and enact national security legislation on its own for the semi-autonomous territory.

On Friday, Mr Trump said Chinese officials ignored their reporting obligations to the WHO and pressed the agency to mislead the world when Chinese authorities first discovered the virus.

"This will affect the full range of agreements, from our extradition treaty to our export controls on dual-use technologies and more, with few exceptions", he said.

Trump said the US will revoke Hong Kong's special customs status, suspend entry to the USA for some individuals deemed "security risks" and impose sanctions against certain Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

And on Hong Kong, they would just say that Hong Kong needs a national security law.

Currently, Hong Kong is a global financial center, and enjoys special treatment in worldwide trade with the United States.

The immediate loser in this process, analysts say, is Hong Kong, whose people and companies will be treated the same as Chinese ones if the United States goes ahead with its plan to stop recognizing the differences between the territory and the mainland.

Hong Kong is exempt from the tariffs applied to goods from the mainland, and the USA has a large trade surplus with the territory. Today on Front Burner, journalist and lawyer Antony Dapiran on what this might mean for Hong Kong's future, and whether this could signal the end of "one country, two systems" in the former British colony.

Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that in practice Trump's decision was unlikely to change the operations of the WHO.

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A spokesman for the USA consulate in Hong Kong told Reuters this was part of the us government's global reinvestment programme that "reinforces the USA government's presence in Hong Kong" through reinvestment in other areas.

Trump's decision follows a pledge last week by Chinese President Xi Jinping to give $2 billion to the World Health Organization over the next two years to help combat the coronavirus.

"It's important to remember that the World Health Organization is a platform for co-operation among countries", said Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights.

Trump also complained that USA companies were being treated unfairly in China.

The Chinese mission in United Nations in a strongly worded statement said, "Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs and allow no external interference". The post was trending on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, on Saturday. The relevant decision is designed for closing national security loopholes in Hong Kong, stopping violence and restoring law and order in Hong Kong, and ensuring Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., praised Trump's decision.

"If Trump's plan continues, Washington will soon run counter to the interests of most Hong Kong people", the state-run Global Times tabloid wrote. "I applaud the Trump administration for taking this hard but necessary step to protect American interests and pressure Beijing to honor its commitment to Hong Kongers and their freedoms". Number three, blocking Chinese post-graduate students and researchers who have any connection to the Chinese military from entering the US, and possibly evicting post-grads who are already here with that same connection. China retaliated with tariffs that have devastated the USA farm industry.

But doing so could complicate the UK's engagement China, and a rocky relationship would make it hard to kick off post-Brexit trade talks with the second-largest economy. In exchange, the USA would suspend planned tariff increases on Beijing.

Trump, who is campaigning for re-election this year and has been criticised for his handling of the pandemic, has blamed China for trying to cover up the coronavirus outbreak.

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