City’s pro-Beijing government warns that punitive measures could backfire

Hong Kong told the United States to keep out of the debate over national security legislation being imposed by China, and warned that withdrawal of the financial hub’s special status under U.S. law could backfire on the U.S. economy.

The former British colony has been racked by civil unrest amid fears Beijing is curbing the high degree of autonomy it has enjoyed under a “one country, two systems” formula adopted when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. “Any sanctions are a double-edged sword that will not only harm the interests of Hong Kong but also significantly those of the U.S.,” Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government said late on Thursday.

From 2009 to 2018, the U.S. trade surplus of $297 billion with Hong Kong was the biggest among all Washington’s trading partners, and 1,300 U.S. firms were based in the city, it said.

New law

Beijing says the new legislation, likely to come into force before September, will tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city. It could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in Hong Kong.

In the latest assertion of Beijing’s authority over the territory, China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said it would “direct and support Hong Kong police to stop violence and restore order”. The city’s police have been independent from China and the MPS has no enforcement powers in the city.

Reacting to U.S. efforts to call a UN Security Council meeting over Hong Kong, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated that Hong Kong was an internal affair and no country had the right to interfere. It said China had lodged solemn representations to countries condemning its plans and was determined to take countermeasures against any U.S. actions.

In Washington, Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Hong Kong, which has enjoyed special privileges under U.S. law on the basis of its high degree of autonomy, may now need to be treated like China on trade and other financial matters.

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