International relations

President Trump starts the removal of Hong Kong privileges

"We will take action to revoke Hong Kong's preferential treatment," Trump said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on 'smothering' individuals.

President Trump starts the removal of Hong Kong privileges
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong, in response to China's plans to impose new security legislation in the territory.

This announcement comes in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has hit the US hard.

Trump reduces Hong Kong special treatment

Trump made the announcement at a White House news conference, saying China had broken its word over Hong Kong's autonomy. He said its move against Hong Kong was a tragedy for the people of Hong Kong, China and the world.

"We will take action to revoke Hong Kong's preferential treatment," he said, adding that the United States would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for smothering Hong Kong's autonomy.

U.S. President Donald Trump is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he makes an announcement about U.S. trade relations with China and Hong Kong.

U.S. President Donald Trump is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he makes an announcement about U.S. trade relations with China and Hong Kong.

Trump's move follows Chinese plans to impose new national security legislation on the former British colony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the territory no longer warrants special treatment under U.S. law that has enabled it to remain a global financial centre.

Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating policy agreements on Hong Kong, ranging from extradition treatment to export controls. He said he would also issue a proclamation on Friday to better safeguard vital university research by suspending the entry of foreign nationals from China identified as potential security risks.

Sources, including a current U.S. official, told Reuters on Thursday that the latter move, which had been expected, could impact 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese graduate students.

Trump also announced that he would be terminating the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organisation over its handling of the coronavirus. This as the situation surrounding George Floyd's death escalates.