Hong Kong officials spoke out firmly Saturday against President TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE's move to end special treatment for the territory, calling his justification "completely wrong" to punish China for imposing national security laws on the semi-autonomous city-territory.
Just hours after the president's remarks that the global financial hub no longer warranted economic privileges and saying that some officials could face sanctions, Hong Kong security minister John Lee told reporters that the territory could not be threatened and would move forward with the new laws, Reuters reported.
"I don't think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right," Lee said.
Justice minister Teresa Cheng called Trump's justification for his actions "completely false and wrong," asserting the national security laws are legal and necessary for the territory.
Trump said Friday the new steps Beijing has taken to extend more control over Hong Kong conflicts with the negotiated treaty called the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
"Therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment," Trump said.
The treaty transferred autonomy of the city-territory from British to Chinese control in 1997, allowing the territory to have an independent legislature and judicial system and other freedoms pertaining to speech, press, and assembly.
During his address at the White House Rose Garden, the president said that China's policy was a tragedy for the world but did not offer a timeline for U.S. moves to implement the new measures.
Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said Saturday ranked as "a sad day" for the city.
"This is an emotional moment for Americans in Hong Kong and it will take companies and families a while to digest the ramifications," she said.
"Many of us ... have deep ties to this city and with Hong Kong people. We love Hong Kong and it's a sad day," she said, backing that the chamber would work to maintain Hong Kong's status as an essential business hub.
Despite some Hong Kong officials slamming Trump's newly addressed measures, democracy protests by the territory's residents are erupting again, with plans to demonstrate in the streets Saturday, according to Reuters.
At least 300 Hong Kong protesters were arrested Wednesday for demonstrations over China's national security law.