U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared on Wednesday that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China, a potentially huge blow to the territory's status as a major financial hub, as the Trump administration weighs suspending Hong Kong's preferential trade relationship with the United States.
Pompeo's certification to Congress follows China's announcement of a plan to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong, which has revived anti-government protests.
Police fired pepper pellets and made 360 arrests on Wednesday, as thousands of people took to the streets in anger over the legislation.
The national security law is meant to tackle secession, subversion and terrorism after major unrest last year.
It also criminalizes disrespect of the Chinese National anthem.
Pompeo said it was "only the latest in a series of actions [by China] that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms." It now falls to President Donald Trump to decide whether to end some, all, or none of the U.S. economic privileges which Hong Kong enjoys now.
Trump, who is already at odds with China over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, said earlier this week that his administration was working on a strong response to China's national security law, which Beijing is expected to approve on Thursday.
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