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Hong Kong warns Trump against the removal of its special status

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On guard: Hong Kong riot police at Central during the second day of debate on the Chinese bill. Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

On guard: Hong Kong riot police at Central during the second day of debate on the Chinese bill. Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

AP

On guard: Hong Kong riot police at Central during the second day of debate on the Chinese bill. Photo: AP Photo/Vincent Yu

Hong Kong told the US to keep out of the debate over national security legislation being imposed by China, and warned that withdrawal of the financial hub's special status under US law could backfire on the US economy.

US President Donald Trump is due to announce his response to the Chinese parliament's advancement this week of security legislation for Hong Kong, which many lawyers, diplomats and investors fear could erode the city's freedoms.

The former British colony has been racked by civil unrest amid fears Beijing is curbing the high degree of autonomy it has enjoyed under a "one country, two systems" formula adopted when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

"Any sanctions are a double- edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly those of the US," Hong Kong's pro-Beijing government said.

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President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

From 2009 to 2018, the US trade surplus of $297bn (€267bn) with Hong Kong was the biggest among all Washington's trading partners, and 1,300 US firms were based in the city, it said.

Beijing says the new legislation, likely to come into force before September, will tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city.

It could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in Hong Kong.

Riot police fired pepper pellets this week to disperse thousands of protesters in the city's first major unrest since anti-government demonstrations paralysed it for months last year. There had been a lull in the agitation partly as a result of the coronavirus.

Chinese authorities and Hong Kong's government say the legislation poses no threat to the city's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors would be preserved.

Reacting to US efforts to call a UN Security Council meeting over Hong Kong, China's foreign ministry reiterated yesterday that Hong Kong was an internal affair and no country had the right to interfere.

It said China was determined to take countermeasures against any US actions.

Mr Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, warned Hong Kong, which has enjoyed special privileges under US law on the basis of its high degree of autonomy from Beijing, may now need to be treated like China on trade and other financial matters.

The State Department said it could "no longer certify that Hong Kong continues to warrant (differential) treatment" from Beijing.

Irish Independent