Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed on Wednesday the Trump administration’s ruling that Hong Kong is not sufficiently autonomous from Beijing to enjoy the preferential trade status the city used to have.
Up until last year, Hong Kong was not subject to the export controls, sanctions, and tariffs that apply to the rest of China. In May 2020, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrapped the preferential trade status for Hong Kong after Beijing introduced a controversial national security law for the city that was later passed in June of that year.
Blinken reaffirming Pompeo’s decision is the latest example of the Biden administration continuing Trump’s hardline China policies. It also doesn’t make much sense if Washington is worried about China’s influence. Reducing the amount of trade between the US and Hong Kong only pushes the city closer to Beijing.
Blinken was required to submit a report to Congress on Hong Kong’s autonomy based on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that was signed into law at the height of the protests that rocked the city from 2019 to 2020. The bill was passed through Congress and signed into law after Hong Kong protest leaders traveled to Washington and testified before Congress, pleading for the US to intervene.
Other legislation that was signed into law by Trump concerning Hong Kong is also being enforced by the Biden administration. Earlier in March, the US sanctioned 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act that was signed into law in 2020.