Hong Kong officials protest U.S. move

President Trump ended city’s special status for customs and travel purposes


Hong Kong officials lashed out on Saturday at moves by U.S. President Donald Trump to strip the city of its special status in a bid to punish China for imposing national security laws on the global financial hub.

Speaking hours after Mr. Trump said the city no longer warranted economic privileges and that some officials could face sanctions, Security Minister John Lee told reporters that Hong Kong could not be threatened and would push ahead with the new laws.

‘We are right’

“I don’t think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right,” Mr. Lee said. Justice Minister Teresa Cheng said the basis for Mr. Trump’s actions was “completely false and wrong”, saying national security laws were legal and necessary for the former British colony.

In some of his toughest rhetoric yet, Mr. Trump said Beijing had broken its word over Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy from Beijing, by proposing the national security legislation and that the territory no longer warranted U.S. economic privileges. “We will take action to revoke Hong Kong’s preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China,” Mr. Trump said, adding that Washington would also impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for ”smothering — absolutely smothering — Hong Kong’s freedom”. Mr. Trump said that China’s move was a tragedy for the world, but he gave no timetable.

China’s Parliament earlier this month approved a decision to create laws for Hong Kong to curb sedition, secession, terrorism and foreign interference. Mainland security and intelligence agents may be stationed in the city for the first time.