China’s Latest Encroachment Could Risk Hong Kong’s Special Trade Status with U.S.



Naomi Xu Elegant|Fortune

On Thursday, one day before the National People’s Congress gathering of China’s political elite, Beijing said it would bypass Hong Kong’s legislature and introduce national security laws that would ban sedition, secession, and subversion of China’s central government—the clearest sign yet of Beijing’s intent to dampen political dissent and further exert its influence in semiautonomous Hong Kong.

U.S. politicians responded swiftly, launching bipartisan measures that oppose Beijing’s proposal and signaling that political tensions between the U.S. and China—already strained by the coronavirus pandemic and the trade dispute—may get even worse.

“[A] further crackdown from Beijing will only intensify the Senate’s interest in re-examining the U.S.-China relationship,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) said on Thursday after the announcement.

That re-examination may come sooner than later. Hong Kong enjoys a special trade status with the U.S. that treats it differently from China. A review of that status is overdue and could be an opportunity for Washington to rebuke Beijing for its recent move.

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