The United States said Monday it was ending the export of sensitive military items to Hong Kong, no longer treating the financial hub separately from China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was taking the measure due to China’s push forward with a security law that Hong Kong activists say will curb the city’s freedoms.
“We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the CCP by any means necessary,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
The State Department will end all exports to Hong Kong on its controlled list — items ranging from advanced ammunition to military hardware that already need the green light from the administration and Congress.
The Commerce Department in turn will stop making a distinction between Hong Kong and China on so-called dual-use US products, which have both military and civilian applications — and are highly restricted when sought by Beijing.
Pompeo announced the decision hours after China in turn restricted visas to some Americans for Hong Kong.
The United States has been leading global outrage over a proposed security law, which would outlaw subversion and other perceived offenses in Hong Kong, to which Beijing promised autonomy before it was handed back the territory from Britain in 1997.
“It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing’s decision to violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Pompeo said.
In response, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the government has evaluated the impact of US sanctions and said it would only cause some “inconvenience.” Relevant industries could find replacements and would not be seriously affected, she said.
“There’s a group of people in Hong Kong who always beg foreign governments, especially the US government, to interfere into Hong Kong’s affairs, to sanction Hong Kong…” Lam added, saying the government would fully cooperate with Beijing if they enact counter-measures. “Any action on sanctions will not scare us.”
Additional reporting: Kelly Ho.