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China to be Punished by Trump for Eroding Hong Kong’s Autonomy

U.S. President, Donald Trump, has the right to punish China for eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and other human rights abuses. However, according to a leading Chinese economist on Friday, the options would not be that damaging to China.

Under American law, Hong Kong retains special privileges, treating the territory more favorably than the mainland. The Asian financial has also, so far, been exempted from the punishing tariffs that the U.S. has imposed on China. Several observers are saying that the U.S. can revoke that special status for Hong Kong, hurting China – which depends on Hong Kong as a bridge to the rest of the world.

Additionally, Tsinghua University’s economic professor, Li Daokui, explained that all the threats to revoke Hong Kong’s special privileges from the U.S. would are not very credible because American businesses would become affected as well.

On Thursday, China approved a controversial national security law in the special administrative region of Hong Kong. This move’s critics say it would erode the freedoms of its people and let Beijing have greater control over the semi-autonomous region.

Press Conference

Later this Friday, Trump will hold a news conference to talk about China. Though the president didn’t give any details, there is speculation that he might announce his administration’s response to some developments this week.

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China, this week. This happened after Beijing unveiled plans to vote on the Hong Kong law during its parliamentary meeting.

Over the last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation, calling for sanctions against Chinese officials regarding the detention and torture of Uighurs – a Muslim minority group in China.

Li stated, “If you think about it, Hong Kong is not a center of trade of commodity.”

Additionally, he said that the city is a financial services hub with a massive amount of money flow through.

The professor, who was previously a member of the monetary policy committee at China’s central bank and served as an external advisor to the International Monetary Fund, noted that it would bring considerable damage to U.S. businesses if President Trump threatens to close the door on its money flow to Hong Kong. That may be a cost that is too high for President Trump to pay.

Hong Kong Special Status

Furthermore, Li indicated that Trump would impose sanctions on specific high-level Chinese government officials. This could be, for example, closing their financial accounts in the U.S. However, the actual political damage from the action is not too high.

And this is because the anti-corruption campaign in China has led many Chinese officials to sever their financial ties with U.S. entities during the last few several years.

Following this, other observers said that it is not in the interest of the U.S. to hurt China, especially when the connections between the two countries have deteriorated significantly. Aside from Hong Kong’s autonomy, the U.S. and China have recently argued over trade and the origins of the coronavirus.

Asia program think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s senior fellow, Yukon Huang, said that Trump needs to deliver a firm signal on the issue of Hong Kong. They also said his behavior would possibly only go as far as symbolic actions.

Huang said, “More likely, he’s going to apply some actions. He’s going to penalize some of the officials.”

Nonetheless, the president would not go this far when it comes to making the economic relationship more complicated. After all, the elections are around the corner, and a breakdown in terms of U.S.-China relations may not serve both sides very well.

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