China plans on expanding its crackdown on Hong Kong sovereignty, a step that comes one day after China announced dramatic plans to rein in dissent by writing a new law into the city’s charter, and just hours after the Senate passed a bill that will retaliate against China should it do precisely that, effectively ensuring an even further deterioration in US-Sino relations.
“The market is taking this news negatively for Hong Kong given the likely return of violent protest activities, higher risk for the U.S. to remove certain preferential terms for Hong Kong, such as the special tariff status, and risk-off sentiment,” said Becky Liu, head of China macro strategy at Standard Chartered Bank Ltd.
In addition to an imminent return of violent Hong Kong protests, China's position sets up an election-year showdown with Trump, who has come under pressure in Washington to reconsider the special trading status before the city’s return to Chinese rule under a promise to maintain its liberal financial and political structure. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has delayed an annual report on whether the city still enjoys a “high degree of autonomy” from Beijing, telling reporters Wednesday that he was “closely watching what’s going on there.”
The climax came when late on Thursday, senators Chris Van Hollen (Democrat) and Pat Toomey (Republican) introduced legislation to punish Chinese entities involved in enforcing the proposed new security law in Hong Kong and penalize banks that do business with those entities. They acted in response to what they said was the Chinese Communist Party’s “brazen interference” in Hong Kong’s autonomy. Meanwhile, China has repeatedly stressed that the US should mind its own business and not mess in internal affairs, with Hong Kong considered one of them.