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US stops sensitive military exports to Hong Kong

In this file photo taken on March 25, 2020 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the country is ending the export of sensitive military items of American origin to Hong Kong, no longer treating the territory separately from China.

“As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law, the United States will today end exports of US-origin defense equipment” to Hong Kong, Pompeo said in a statement on Monday.

The United States “will take steps toward imposing the same restrictions on US defense and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong as it does for China,” he added.

The US top diplomat says the reason for taking this decision is that Washington can “no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China.”

“We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army,” he said in his statement, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

“Given Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System’, so must we,” Pompeo noted.

Pompeo’s Monday statement came shortly after China said it will slap visa restrictions on Americans with bad records in Hong Kong-related issues, criticizing Washington for attempts to throw a wrench in a national security law planned to be introduced in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

“China has decided to impose visa restrictions against American individuals who have behaved egregiously on matters concerning Hong Kong,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said during a press briefing on Monday.

Back on Friday, Pompeo had said that the Trump administration was restricting US visas for a number of unspecified Chinese officials for allegedly infringing on the autonomy of Hong Kong.

 “The US is attempting to obstruct China’s legislation for safeguarding national security in the HK SAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) by imposing the so-called sanctions, but it will never succeed,” the Chinese spokesperson told reporters.

China’s parliament — the National People’s Congress Standing Committee — is looking into the national security bill drafted with the aim of countering sedition, secession and subversion in Hong Kong against the mainland.

Reports say the bill has overwhelming support among the Chinese legislators.

Several protests have been held in Hong Kong over the past week against the draft law. Washington has openly voiced support for the anti-Beijing demonstrations, angering China.

Last week, the US Senate approved a bill that would impose mandatory sanctions on people or companies that, Washington claims, back efforts to restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy.

It includes secondary sanctions on banks that do business with anyone backing any crackdown on the territory’s autonomy.

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