President Trump on Tuesday signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to authorize sanctions against Chinese officials.
The act was unanimously passed in the House and Senate this month after China enacted a new security law in Hong Kong that squelches free speech, effectively ending the former British territory’s autonomy.
“Today I signed legislation and an executive order to hold China accountable for its oppressive actions against the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.
“We’ve all watched what happened, not a good situation,” Trump said. “Their freedom has been taken away, their rights have been taken away and with it goes Hong Kong, in my opinion, because it will no longer be able to compete with free markets.”
The new executive order ends “preferential treatment for Hong Kong,” Trump said, meaning the economic hub will be treated the same as mainland China.
The Hong Kong law, meanwhile, authorizes sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the Hong Kong crackdown and against banks linked to those officials.
The actions follow a nosedive in US-China relations due to the coronavirus pandemic, which China’s Communist government allegedly covered up, preventing global preparedness.
Last month, Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act to punish Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses against the country’s mostly Muslim Uyghur minority.
Trump said Friday that reaching a trade deal with China is unlikely due to its botched handling of COVID-19, which has sickened more than 3.4 million Americans, killed 163,000 and left tens of millions at least temporarily unemployed.
In January, Trump signed a “phase one” deal with China that paused a trade war.
Trump reportedly is considering many anti-China policies, including banning the TikTok social media platform, which is hugely popular among US teens, but which officials claim could pipe data to China’s Communist leaders.
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