US President Donald Trump has said he will end preferential treatment for Hong Kong in trade and travel.
His announcement is a response to a new security law pushed by Beijing.
President Trump has described the Chinese government’s moves to introduce the measure in Hong Kong as a “tragedy” saying that he no longer considers Hong Kong to be separate from China.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, enjoys unique freedoms not seen in mainland China. But many people there see the looming security law as bringing an end to Hong Kong’s special status, agreed under a 1984 agreement between China and the UK.
There are also fears the proposed measure which has sparked a wave of anti-mainland protests could end Hong Kong’s unique status and make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in the territory.
Addressing reporters in the White House Garden, President Trump said “China has replaced One Country, Two Systems with One Country, One System.”
“This is a tragedy for Hong Kong… China has smothered Hong Kong’s freedom,” he said.
He further noted that sanctions would be imposed on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who were believed by Washington to be involved in eroding the territory’s autonomy.
He added that the State Department would revise its travel advisory for Hong Kong in light of “increased danger of surveillance” from China.
He also said the US would suspend the entry of foreign nationals from China identified by the US as potential security risks. There are fears that this could affect thousands of graduate students.
President Trump’s actions follow a proposed security legislation which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong, and could also see China installing its own security agencies in the region for the first time.