China pledges 'firm response' to Trump ending of Hong Kong's special status

15 July 2020, 07:44

President Trump spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden
President Trump spoke to reporters in the Rose Garden. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Donald Trump has signed legislation ordering an end to preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong after China enacted a new security law there.

"Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China," President Trump said.

He also signed legislation ordering sanctions for Chinese officials involved in Beijing's crackdown in the territory.

The move is part of the Trump administration's tit-for-tat exchange with China over what he claims is unfair treatment by the country.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday, Mr Trump said his executive order would end preferential treatment for Hong Kong.

"No special privileges, no special economic treatment and no export of sensitive technologies," said the president, who first announced in May that his administration would begin paring back the territory's special status.

The President also took aim at China over the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, he told reporters "we hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world".

The almost daily administration broadsides against China come as Mr Trump is being criticised for the surge in coronavirus cases in the United States and as he works to portray his expected Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, as weak on China.

US-China relations are at a low ebb.

Since the two nations signed phase one of a trade deal, the talks are currently stalled with virtually no hope of restarting before the November election.

In a statement, the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs hit out at the latest US moves, urging Washington to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.

The ministry said the Chinese authorities would also impose retaliatory sanctions against American individuals and entities.

"China will make necessary responses to protect its legitimate interests," the statement said.

“We urge the US to correct its mistakes. If the US stubbornly pursues this path, China will give a firm response.”