US Should Suspend Hong Kong’s Special Economic Status If Chinese Army Cracks Down On Protests, Panel Says

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The US Congress is expected to enact legislation that would suspend Hong Kong’s special economic status under US law if China deploys forces to crush protests in the territory, a congressional advisory body said Thursday.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), which is charged with overseeing the national security implications of US relations with Beijing, published the call in its annual report among a series of proposals. difficult, reflecting a “much more confrontational” relationship.

He said that with Beijing seeking to build a “world class” army and warning of its willingness to take military action to defend its interests, Washington “must foresee the worst scenarios, while trying to achieve the best.”

Pressure in the US Congress for legislation to back pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and pressure China to refrain from violent crackdown has met with obstacles , raising the question of whether it will ever become law.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed human rights legislation in Hong Kong last month, including a bill that would put Hong Kong’s special treatment under tighter control.

A Senate committee approved a similar measure in September, but the vote for the entire Assembly has yet to be scheduled and the White House has not clarified whether President Donald Trump will sign or veto a such bill.

The commission’s recommendations go further, calling for legislation to suspend Hong Kong’s special status if China “deploys the People’s Liberation Army or People’s Armed Police Force to engage in armed intervention in Hong Kong. Kong “.

He also urged Congress to ask the State Department to develop specific benchmarks to measure the “high degree of autonomy” the territory is supposed to enjoy from Beijing.

Two high-ranking senators began a process on Thursday to get the Senate bill passed quickly, amid an upsurge in violence after months of protests in Hong Kong.

Jim Risch, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio, another Republican who is a senior member of the panel, want to pass the bill unanimously, but it’s unclear when that could happen. .

On Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province but which Washington is bound to help defend, the USCC called for a Pentagon study to form the basis of a 15-year plan of action to deter any attempts to Beijing to absorb the island by force. .

He also called for legislation to order the administration to increase military exchanges and training with Taiwan.

“Just as the nations sought to free themselves from the iron grip of the Soviet system, we bear witness to aspirations in Hong Kong and Taiwan that require our reconsideration of the commitments we made under the one-country and two-way model. systems, ”the USCC vice president said. president, Robin Cleveland, said in presenting the report.

The committee underlined the deepening of ties between China and Russia, and said Congress should seek an intelligence assessment on the effect this might have on the United States and its allies and how to respond. .

USCC recommendations are not binding but have become increasingly influential with policy makers. Its prescriptions are regularly denounced by Beijing. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report focused closely on Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s attempt to tighten his grip on power and that of the Communist Party and argued that he should be called the “secretary general” of that party, rather than by the Communist Party. “undeserved title of ‘president’.”

The USCC said US-China relations had deteriorated “significantly” over the past year, during which both sides imposed retaliatory tariffs in a damaging trade war and Beijing escalated its efforts to promote itself as a world leader capable of projecting its military might beyond the Indo-Pacific, as well as into space.

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