Hong Kong (AFP) – Hong Kong’s head of government accused the United States of using “double standards” in its response to violent protests on Tuesday when it warned that Washington’s plan to impose trade restrictions on the financial center would “only hurt itself”.
The semi-autonomous Hong Kong was shaken last year by months of large and often violent protests against democracy, which has rioted the riot police with more than 9,000 arrests.
Washington criticized Hong Kong’s reaction to the demonstrations with US President Donald Trump last week and promised to end the city’s special trade status after Beijing announced plans to impose a comprehensive national security law on the business center.
Hong Kong director general Carrie Lam said Tuesday that such a move was self-destructive when it targeted the Trump administration in its own response to violent protests against racial justice in the United States.
“We have seen the double standards most clearly in the past few weeks,” Lam, who was selected as a city guide by a pro-Beijing committee, told reporters.
“You know there is unrest in the United States and we see how local governments reacted. And then, in Hong Kong, when we had similar unrest, we saw what position they were in at the time.”
Both Chinese and Hong Kong officials have taken up the unrest that the United States has launched in its propaganda campaign to justify their own actions against democracy-friendly protests and national security law plans.
Last week, the Chinese stamp parliament approved plans for a law to punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that threaten national security, and to allow Chinese security agencies to act openly in the city.
Beijing says the anti-subversion law – which will bypass Hong Kong legislation – is necessary to combat “terrorism” and “separatism”.
Opponents fear that this will lead to political oppression on the mainland in a business center that is said to guarantee freedom and autonomy for 50 years after it was handed over from Britain to China in 1997.
– trade targeted –
At her weekly press conference, Lam said Hong Kong had not enacted its own national security laws in the legislature for 23 years, which prompted Beijing to take the initiative.
“There is simply no justification for a government or economy to impose sanctions on Hong Kong as a result of a very legitimate process by the central government, the central authorities, who choose to pass laws for Hong Kong to better protect nationals. Security” , she said.
“They will violate their own interests in Hong Kong,” she added, referring to the US threats to restrict trade privileges.
Lam said that around 1,300 American companies are present in the financial center, which generates the largest trade surplus for the United States compared to any other country or territory, she added.
She also said Hong Kong allows Americans to enter without a visa, a privilege that is not returned.
Lam didn’t consider whether visa-free travel could be lifted in response to trade sanctions, but Chinese officials have vowed to take “countermeasures” against every step the US takes.
Under a 1992 law, the United States treats Hong Kong as a separate trading unit to the more restricted and authoritarian mainland of China, as long as the city retains the main freedoms and autonomy.
Last month, the State Department announced that the area was no longer autonomous enough to justify this special status.