Trump’s bombshell warning to China ahead of Hong Kong security bill vote

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China’s parliament is set to pass a security law that would curtail Hong Kong’s independent legal status on Thursday. The proposal raises questions on the territory’s current special economic status under US legislation.

At a White House press briefing, Trump was asked whether he intended to penalise China over Hong Kong and if he would implement restrictions on visas for students and researchers from China.

He responded: “We’re doing something now. I think you’ll find it very interesting.

“I’ll be talking about it over the next couple of days.”

Asked if this would involve sanctions, he said: “No it’s something you’re going to be hearing about … before the end of the week, very powerfully I think.”

Trump did not explain further details, but earlier White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said she was displeased by the plans for a security law.

She added that she sound it “hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over.”

Pressed if this might portend a stop of Washington’s special economic treatment towards Hong Kong, Ms McEnany said she had nothing to say back to that question.

Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, earlier branded Beijing’s plans as “very disturbing.”

“China is making a big mistake, frankly,” he said.

Mr Kudlow said the US would welcome back any American firms currently in Hong Kong or China’s mainland.

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“We will do what we can for full expensing and pay the cost of moving if they return their supply chains and their production to the United States,” he said.

Trump administration officials and lawmakers have been considering proposals to get US companies to move supply chains for key products back to the US from China.

The move comes as tensions and arguments between the two countries escalate in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ideas mentioned so far include tax breaks, allowanced including a potential $25 billion “reshoring fund” and new local content measures.

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is set to reveal a congressionally ruled report on whether Hong Kong has enough autonomy to remain a special economic territory.

He said last week the bill would be the “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy.

If the State Department invalidates the territory, it would be ultimately down to Trump to decide which of Hong Kong’s special allowances to terminate, if any.

Trump had previously threatened of a strict penalisation and national security adviser Robert O’Brien warned the law could prompt US sanctions and endanger the territory’s status as a financial hub.

Separately, the US House of Representatives is expected on Wednesday to pass a law to strengthen Washington’s response to China’s repression on its Uighur Muslim community, addressing to Trump’s desk, congressional sources said.

Asked if he would approve the legislation, which calls for penalties against senior Chinese officials, Trump said he would learn more about the subject later on Tuesday.

He admitted he would “take a look at it very strongly,” but did not specify what kind of response he would give.

The US Chamber of Commerce business lobby advised China to mitigate the tensions, saying it would be “a serious mistake” to threaten Hong Kong’s special status.

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