The State Department announced Wednesday that it is ending three agreements with Hong Kong, amid China’s crackdown on freedoms in the territory — and escalating tensions between the U.S. and the communist regime.
“The Chinese Communist Party chose to crush the freedoms and autonomy of the people of Hong Kong,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.
In a statement, the State Department noted the “drastic steps to erode the high degree of autonomy that Beijing itself promised to the United Kingdom and the people of Hong Kong for 50 years under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
That declaration, which promised “one country, two systems,” has been undermined by a recent package of harsh national security laws passed by Beijing that has drastically curbed freedoms and political oppositions — especially the thriving pro-democracy movement.
President Trump last month signed an executive order to change relations and end preferential treatment to Hong Kong. The suspension of the agreements, on extraditions and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation on ships, are a result of that order.
“These steps underscore our deep concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose the National Security Law, which has crushed the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
The latest moves come after the administration earlier this month announced it was sanctioning Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam as part of a wave of measures against Hong Kong officials.
Among the other officials sanctioned were the Hong Kong police force commissioner, the secretary for security in Hong Kong, the secretary for justice and the secretary for constitutional affairs. China has fired back by sanctioning a number of U.S. lawmakers.
Hong Kong is just one aspect of the U.S.-China relationship that has soured dramatically in recent months. The U.S. has also criticized Chinese moves in the South China Sea, has moved against fears that China may use technology to harvest data of American users, and has continued to note the Chinese origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.