ANALYSIS: The Hong Kong Crisis
Updated: Jul 23, 2020
On July 14, 2020, President Donald J. Trump officially declared by executive order that Hong Kong could no longer be considered autonomous from the PRC (People’s Republic of China). The decision comes after the CCP (Communist Party of China) imposed new national security laws on the region and ramped up its enforcement of such measures. The move by China, in the president’s eyes, constitutes a threat to the United States through, “national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
As it stands, the most recent executive order does more than just change the stance of the United States towards Hong Kong. It applies to both foreign nationals and United States citizens, particularly in their interactions with Hong Kong and the CCP. Furthermore, the order thoroughly suspends section 201 of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 when in reference to immigration and trade.
Details regarding Hong Kong
It should be noted that since 1997, when Britain formally gave Hong Kong to China, the CCP had softly pushed the security laws through the local HK government. Being that they were unpopular, the laws were defeated on each occurrence until recently. These national security laws, the details of which were not public until being passed, carry out heavy-handed punishments for acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces. On June 30, 2020, the laws went into effect and punishment for those that had broken them could be carried out. Notable reprimands for breaking the laws include fines to businesses, life in prison, extradition, and being found guilty will remove a citizen's capability to run for office among other harsh penalties.
Foreign Nationals, Businesses, and United States Citizens
As President Trump outlines, the Hong Kong Normalization executive order is also the declaration of a national emergency in response to the actions the CCP has taken. As mentioned, it does not simply change the classification of Hong Kong, but has specific provisions pertaining to immigration, businesses, human rights, and more.
For citizens of Hong Kong, the change will be applied immediately to their status when it comes to travel. An example of that can specifically be found in section 3, subsection b, which states:
amend the regulation at 8 CFR 212.4(i) to eliminate the preference for Hong Kong passport holders as compared to PRC passport holders.
The order also changes how the United States will deal with businesses, citizens, and foreign nationals when it comes to transactions that may include China. Section 4 covers this specifically with language that may include companies past the borders of China and Hong Kong. This can be seen with:
All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are ore hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn or otherwise dealt with…
The order then goes on to state specific actions and types of trade that may be seen by the United States government as illegal. This may include:
To be involved in “directly or indirectly” the “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning,” officials in consultation with the United States.
To have or helped with “developing, adopting, or implementing” CCP law.
To have committed such actions to Hong Kong institutions like:
Taken actions or implemented policies that threatened Hong Kong
Undermined the democratic process in Hong Kong
Censored or limited “freedom of expression or assembly by citizens”
Limited access to “print, online or broadcast media”
Being a “leader or official” that has committed to actions outlined in section 4 as well as others.
Provided technological, financial, sponsored, or other kinds of support to individuals that are hereby blocked by the executive order
As previously mentioned, these examples and more not only apply to foreign nationals and governments, but also United States citizens. This can be seen in section 5 and 11, the latter outlines that American citizens need “no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 4 of this order.”
The Chinese government’s immediate reaction was sanctions against four American officials, one of which being Texas Republican Ted Cruz.
Wayne C. Hahne is a Policy Correspondent for The National Times