Trump ‘displeased’ with China’s proposal to crack down on Hong Kong, White House says
President Trump is “displeased” with the Chinese government’s latest attempt to crack down on Hong Kong, the White House said Tuesday, adding to tensions between the U.S. and Beijing.
“He’s displeased with China’s efforts and that it’s hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, relaying a message she said came from the president.
McEnany offered no further details on what the U.S. would do if China followed through on its efforts to seize further control over the semi-autonomous region.
Beijing is expected in the coming days to pass a “national security law” for Hong Kong that provides sweeping authority to Chinese officials to crack down in the territory on acts of “treason, secession, sedition and subversion.”
The U.S. has warned that such actions are a threat to the “one country, two systems” policy that has allowed Hong Kong to operate largely independently since it was transferred back from British rule to Beijing in 1997.
The law is viewed as a response to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, which began in June in opposition to proposed legislation that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China for criminal offenses. But the national security law has itself prompted a fresh round of protests in Hong Kong and raised concerns among human rights advocates globally.
Trump largely kept quiet as the pro-democracy protests raged last summer, saying he hoped that the two sides could work out their issues peacefully without fully condemning Chinese President Xi Jinping. Those protests were taking place while the Trump administration attempted to broker a trade deal with Beijing.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have escalated in recent months, however, as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world. The virus, which is believed to have originated in China, has killed nearly 100,000 people in the U.S. and infected more than 1.6 million.
Trump initially offered praise for China’s transparency in handling the outbreak but has since shifted his tone to rip Beijing for its slow initial response. He has signaled that he intends to hold China accountable for the virus, though he has declined to elaborate on what that might entail.