Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China. Last year, Congress amended the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act and required the State Department to assess and certify to Congress that Hong Kong remains autonomous from the Chinese government.
"No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground," Pompeo said.
Pompeo said his decision was based in part on proposed national security legislation, which would criminalize many of the anti-government movements that have been actively protesting in recent months.
"Beijing's disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms and China's own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-filed international treaty," Pompeo said in a statement.
The new legislation sparked a fresh round of protests in Hong Kong. On Wednesday (May 27), Chinese authorities arrested hundreds of protesters who took to the streets, worried that new legislation could result in people being jailed for speaking out against the government.
For years, Hong Kong has enjoyed a special status as a trading partner with the United States. While the U.S. treats Hong Kong as part of mainland China, the territory enjoys different rules when it comes to trade and commerce. That status could be in jeopardy now that the State Department has changed its stance.
Pompeo said that granting Hong Kong special status allowed the territory to thrive but cautioned that China's new push for more power could undermine all the work that has been done.
"Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty," Pompeo said. "But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself."
Photo: Getty Images