USA restricts visas of Chinese officials who've 'eviscerated' Hong Kong's freedoms

USA restricts visas of Chinese officials who've 'eviscerated' Hong Kong's freedoms

The statement said that the legal basis for the Chinese government to govern Hong Kong is China's Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Mr Trump has not publicly said if he would sign the Hong Kong Autonomy Act into law, but in the past, he has criticised legislation that ties his hands.

The Chinese government still refuses to publish the full text of the "national security law" it will soon impose on Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been rocked by pro-democracy protests which have had a knock-on effect on the financial hub with local GDP falling by 2.8 per cent and 3 per cent in the last two quarters of 2019, and 8.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2020.

"The United States calls on China to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration", Pompeo said in a statement, calling for protections of "freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly".

The measures have been widely seen as the most significant erosion to date of Hong Kong's British-style rule of law and high degree of autonomy promised under the "one country, two systems" principle since Britain returned the former colony to China in 1997.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to name those targeted in Friday's move, saying visa records were confidential. "It is imperative that the worldwide community, and particularly the United Nations and its member states, act urgently to establish a mechanism for observing, monitoring and reporting on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Hong Kong".

With the world focused on the pandemic, Beijing thinks this is their opportunity to steamroll Hong Kong, " said Senator Josh Hawley, the resolution's sponsor. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"China has said it wants to improve" the lives of those who live in Hong Kong, but reality, that means stripping the people of Hong Kong of the basic rights and liberties guaranteed to them under the 1984 treaty, Hawley said.

Chinese embassy spokeswoman Fang Hong said China "opposes the US side's wrongful decisions", and added that China's legislation targeted only "a very narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security".

Photo taken on August 5, 2019 shows China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) on the Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China.

Mr Pompeo's action comes one day after the US Senate unanimously approved a bill that would impose mandatory economic sanctions in the United States against Chinese officials and Hong Kong police identified as hurting the city's autonomous status.

CNN has reported that with Trump's re-election prospects uncertain and the economy struggling as the November vote nears, advisers close to Trump, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, believe the President should take a harder line with China.

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