Trump Ends Special Status for Hong Kong

Executive order eviscerates distinction between PRC and Hong Kong

President Donald Trump / Getty Images
July 14, 2020

President Trump unveiled a new executive order ending the United States' diplomatic distinction between Hong Kong and mainland China.

The order will end preferential treatment of Hong Kong on matters of democratization and trade, recognizing the island as no different from mainland PRC. "No special privileges, no special economic treatment," Trump said at a press conference Tuesday evening.

The announcement follows China's aggressive takeover of Hong Kong's levers of power via a new national security law. The law expands Chinese authority to extradite political dissidents and cracks down on the political culture in Hong Kong such that it will more closely resemble the Beijing regime.

Since 1992, the United States has maintained a special relationship with Hong Kong codified in law. While China upheld the "One Country, Two Systems" policy with regard to Hong Kong, the State Department recognized Hong Kong’s free market and legal institutions as different from those of Beijing and attempted to foster growth through trade.

China's increasing imposition of its model of governance on Hong Kong has led the Trump administration to rethink this policy. Washington intends its pivot to act as punishment for China's "oppressive" treatment of Hong Kong, the president said.

Trump also cited China’s intellectual property fraud, military buildup, hijacking of multilateral organizations, and manipulation of international trade as reasons to alter relations with the communist regime. No country has ever "ripped off" the United States like China, the president said. He added that he has "no plans" to speak with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The announcement reflects views on Hong Kong expressed previously by Trump administration officials. "No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May.