U.S. says Hong Kong no longer warrants special treatment . . .
In a move that could have far-reaching implications, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress this morning that Hong Kong does not have a high degree of autonomy from China and that the city no longer warrants special treatment under the U.S. law. The statement came a day before Beijing is expected to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong. Pompeo’s statement indicates that the Trump administration is likely to end or significantly curtail special economic and trade relations with Hong Kong. The city could lose its preferential tariff rate, businesses, and status as a trade and investment hub.
Protests continue amid escalating police response . . .
After a tumultuous weekend of demonstrations against the national security law, protestors in Hong Kong took to the streets again on Wednesday to oppose a proposed law that would criminalize intentional and public disrespect against China’s national anthem. Many worry that the proposed law, which carries significant fines and up to three years in jail for violators, could further suppress freedom of speech. Throughout the day, the protestors were met with thousands of police in riot gears, who fired pepper spray bullets into crowds and stopped and searched passers-by near public transit during rush hours. Over 300 arrests were made within the day.
Worries about the future of Hong Kong grow . . .
Between economic uncertainty and Beijing’s tightening political control, concerns about Hong Kong have swirled for both its residents and the international community. Google searches in Hong Kong for ‘immigration’ have spiked. In nearby Taiwan, where the number of immigrants and asylum seekers from Hong Kong had jumped since last year, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged on Wednesday to provide humanitarian relief for people involved in the Hong Kong protests. Canada, too, could face an influx of people. According to a 2011 APF Canada survey, around 300,000 Canadians live in Hong Kong, 83 per cent of whom also have permanent residency in Hong Kong.