US President said he will start removing the city’s special status because a planned national security law means it is no longer autonomous
Observers say Beijing may choose to wait to see what White House will do before responding with tit-for-tat measures
China may choose to wait for more details before announcing counter measures after Donald Trump’s announcement that he will revoke Hong Kong’s special status, according to observers.
“I think the Chinese side is waiting for a more detailed plan from Trump and will come up with a more precise retaliation in response,” said Tian Feilong, a law professor with Beihang University in Beijing.
“I believe Beijing has made preparations for different scenarios,” he said. “We might see some tit-for-tat measures, such as a travel ban for a travel ban or tariffs for tariffs.”
Trump said the US will begin eliminating the special customs and travel exemptions the city enjoys after deciding that the city is “no longer autonomous” from mainland China.
The move will affect “the full range of agreements” the US has with Hong Kong “with few exceptions”, he said.
Trump’s speech came one day after China’s legislature passed a resolution to institute a new security law tailor-made for Hong Kong that would prohibit acts of subversion and secession – a move that critics fear will effectively criminalise all forms of dissent and opposition activities.
Beijing has previously defended the national security bill and criticised US “intervention” in the city’s affairs, but as of Saturday afternoon, the reaction to Trump’s pledge had been muted.
State broadcaster CCTV and official news agency Xinhua did not cover the president’s announcement on Hong Kong and the foreign ministry had yet to make any statement.
Most Chinese media instead focused on Trump’s move to cut ties with the World Health Organisation, an announcement made in the same press conference.
, a nationalistic tabloid affiliated with party mouthpiece
, hit back in an editorial that said “extreme” US tactics were “chronic suicide”.
“How far would Washington go to impose sanctions against China? The US may need to calculate its loss first,” the editorial read. “Hong Kong is a contributor to tens of billions of US trade surplus each year and the city is closely connected with the interests of many big American companies.
It continued: “China has already prepared for the worst. No matter how far the US goes, China will keep its company.”
Trump’s Friday speech was his most intensive and comprehensive criticism of China yet, said Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor with Renmin University in Beijing.
“China could retaliate by imposing a travel ban on US officials, and it might speed up the legislative process for the national security law in Hong Kong,” said Shi.
“But I believe all countermeasures by China will need to wait for the approval of President Xi [Jinping].”
Shi said the US is expected to roll out actual policies soon. “By the time the national security law is effective, we might expect a few US sanctions on Hong Kong to already be in place,” he said.