US suspends preferential treatment for HK, ends exports of dual-use tech

Local | 30 Jun 2020 9:30 am

The United States began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law on Monday, halting defense exports and restricting the territory’s access to high technology products as China prepares new Hong Kong security legislation, Reuters reports.

The Commerce Department said it was suspending “preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export license exceptions,” adding that further actions to eliminate Hong Kong’s privileged status were being evaluated.

“We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfill the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world,” it said.

The U.S. moves come as the top decision-making body of China’s national legislature is expect to announce a tailor-made national security law for Hong Kong. 

“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to eviscerate Hong Kong’s freedoms has forced the Trump administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

He said effective Monday, Washington was ending exports of defense equipment to Hong Kong and would take steps to end export of dual-use technologies to the territory. Such technologies have commercial and military uses.

“The United States is forced to take this action to protect U.S. national security. We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” Pompeo said.

Kurt Tong, a former U.S. consul general in Hong Kong, told Reuters the U.S. move would not cover a large amount of U.S.-Hong Kong trade as the city was not a major manufacturing center and its economy was almost entirely services.

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