Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday told Congress that the city of Hong Kong is effectively no longer an “autonomous” entity.
“The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China,” Pompeo wrote in a statement. “I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997. No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China…it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”
Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested over 300 demonstrators protesting a proposed law that would impose a three-year prison sentence for insulting the Chinese national anthem, as well as proposed national security laws that pro-democracy activists charge could be used to silence dissent among citizens.
The new national-security laws are “a complete and total surprise and I think it means the end of one country, two systems,” pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Dennis Kwok told the Washington Post last week. Hong Kong was a British protectorate until 1997, when the U.K. granted China limited control over the city.
Hong Kong was wracked by protests for much of 2019 after China-backed legislators attempted to pass a law that would allow the extradition of certain criminal suspects to mainland China. In November, pro-democracy candidates won a majority of seats Hong Kong’s parliament.
In light of the recent moves by China to increase its authority over the city, U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) sponsored legislation to sanction Chinese individuals and entities involved in threats to Hong Kong’s autonomy.