Trump administration 'squandered' Hong Kong to 'sell soybeans' to China, top Democrat says

'It's hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over,' Donald Trump said in May, via his top spokesperson

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 01 July 2020 16:09
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PM announces new route to citizenship for Hong Kongers

A top House Democrat on Wednesday accused the Trump administration of having "squandered" the situation in Hong Kong to "sell soybeans" to China.

But Congressman Brad Sherman – possibly the next chairman of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee – says there's a catch: "We haven't even sold the soybeans." During a hearing on the Hong Kong's diminishing autonomy from Beijing, Mr Sherman accused the White House of putting its partial trade deal with China above human rights.

China on Wednesday implemented a new law that critics say removes the autonomy that Hong Kong has had for decades.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on 27 May that the Trump administration no longer views Hong Kong as autonomous from China, a move that could cause it to lose special trading status with Washington as Donald Trump threatens to punish Beijing over coronavirus.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters she had talked to Donald Trump about the matter at that time, with the president telling her: "It's hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over."

The new law spawned sometimes-violent protests in Hong Kong.

Several witnesses told the Foreign Affairs Committee that the so-called "one country, two systems" arrangement has been scrapped due to the new Chinese law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a rare appearance inside a hearing room, saying she did so with "great sadness."

"We continue urging President Trump to hold Chinese officials accountable," she said, adding: "For years, the world has watched in horror" as Beijing has eroded Hong Kong's autonomy.

"They want the most horrible form of horror," Ms Pelosi said, describing Chinese officials' as telling imprisoned Hong Kong protesters that "nobody cares" about their plight.

"It's an all-out effort to negate the rights of the people of Hong Kong," the speaker said. "The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown ... intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised."

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