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Iran Press TV

US decision to strip Hong Kong of special trading status violates WTO rules: China

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 04 June 2020 2:39 PM

China says a recent decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to strip Hong Kong of its special trading status violates rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Thursday that the special trading status given to the semi-autonomous territory was recognized by all WTO members and did not depend solely on the United States.

"If the United States disregards the fundamental principles of international relations and adopts unilateral measures according to its domestic laws, it will violate WTO rules and will not be in the interest of the United States," Gao added.

Separately, a spokesman of China's banking regulator said that Hong Kong's status as a financial hub will not be shaken by the potential sanctions.

"Hong Kong's financial market is running smoothly... and there is no abnormal capital outflow," said the spokesman, adding that this reflects the international market's confidence in the city.

In an attempt to punish China for introducing a new security law for Hong Kong, Trump said on Saturday that the city no longer warranted economic privileges and some of the territory's officials could face US sanctions.

The US president claimed the new legislation would decrease the level of autonomy in Hong Kong, and threatened to impose sanctions on Hong Kong officials who supported the law.

Despite Western criticism, however, Beijing insists that the new law does not pose a threat to Hong Kong's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors, noting that it is merely meant to prevent terrorism and foreign interference there, which were evident in violent, Western-backed protest rallies and riots there last year.

Senior authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong officials have assured the people in the region that the security law will only target a small group of trouble-makers who undermine the business hub's stability.

Gao also stressed at the briefing that the national security law will not undermine Hong Kong's autonomy. "It will not harm the legitimate interests of foreign investors," he added.

Chinese state media earlier this week lashed out at the US president for his decision on Hong Kong.

The official English-language paper China Daily said on Sunday that Trump's decision would hurt the United States and strengthen the bond between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Hong Kong has witnessed protests over the security law as a lockdown imposed over the coronavirus outbreak gradually loosens in the city.

The law was recently passed by the National People's Congress (NPC). It aims to boost security measures and safeguard national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) after violent protests rocked the region for months last year.

Hong Kong's legislature debated and passed the Beijing-proposed bill on May 28.

China has also dismissed US attempts at the United Nations to have the UN Security Council hold a meeting over Beijing's proposed national security law for Hong Kong, emphasizing that the issue is an internal matter.

During a recent UNSC meeting, American and Chinese envoys traded barbs over the imposition of the law on the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The Chinese government says the United States and Britain fanned the flames of the unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the rioters.

Hong Kong has been governed under a "one-country, two-system" model since the city – a former British colony – was returned to China in 1997.

The developments add to growing friction between the world's two biggest economies amid the coronavirus crisis and in the wake of a two-year trade war that has not been fully resolved.

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