WASHINGTON, June 30 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The United States said it was ending the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, no longer treating the financial hub separately from China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was taking the measure due to China’s push forward with a security law that Hong Kong activists say will curb the city’s freedoms.
“We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” Pompeo said in a statement hours before China passed the law.
“We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the CCP by any means necessary,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
The State Department will end all exports to Hong Kong on its controlled list — items ranging from advanced ammunition to military hardware that already need the green light from the administration and Congress.
The Commerce Department in turn will stop making a distinction between Hong Kong and China on so-called dual-use US products, which have both military and civilian applications — and are highly restricted when sought by Beijing.
Pompeo announced the decision hours after China in turn restricted visas to some Americans for Hong Kong.
The United States has been leading global outrage over a proposed security law, which would outlaw subversion and other perceived offenses in Hong Kong, to which Beijing promised autonomy before it was handed back the territory from Britain in 1997.
“It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing’s decision to violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, China had passed the national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, a historic move that critics and many western governments fear will smother the finance hub’s freedoms and hollow out its autonomy.
The legislation was unanimously approved by China’s parliament, little more than six weeks after it was first unveiled, sending shockwaves through semi-autonomous Hong Kong and beyond.
The United States, Britain, the European Union and the United Nations rights watchdog have all voiced fears the law could be used to stifle criticism of Beijing, which wields similar laws on the authoritarian mainland to crush dissent.
In an unprecedented decision, the law bypassed Hong Kong’s fractious legislature and the wording was kept secret from the city’s 7.5 million inhabitants. — NNN-AGENCIES