Washington [US], April 1 (ANI): The Biden administration on Wednesday reaffirmed a determination of the Trump administration that Hong Kong does not warrant preferential treatment under US law owing to the erosion of its autonomy at the hands of Beijing.
In a notice to Congress, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said China had continued to "dismantle" Hong Kong's autonomy since his predecessor, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, first made the determination in May 2020, South China Morning Post reported.
He made the remarks while announcing the State Department's Hong Kong Policy Act Report, sent annually to Congress, which includes a determination as to whether the city is sufficiently autonomous from mainland China to justify preferential economic relations.
"Today, we reported to Congress the PRC's continued dismantling of Hong Kong's freedoms, democratic institutions, and high degree of autonomy. The United States calls on the PRC to reverse course and uphold its international obligations and commitments," Blinken tweeted using a hashtag '#StandWithHongKong'.
Last year, for the first time since Hong Kong's handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the Trump administration decertified Hong Kong's special status and soon began peeling away its privileges, including an extradition treaty and export controls on dual-use technology.
Since then, Beijing has imposed a broadly defined national security law and, more recently, the prospect of a sweeping overhaul of Hong Kong's electoral system.
The national security law had "severely undermined" rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, said Blinken, who listed a catalogue of alleged violations of the city's autonomy by Beijing over the past year. They included political persecution of opposition politicians and activists, the postponement of legislative council elections, pressure on the judiciary, and prohibitions of public demonstrations.
The report released on Wednesday highlighted the 99 arrests made under the national security law as of February, all but one of which were for nonviolent behaviour.
Among them were the arrests of 55 candidates and political organisers who took part in pan-democratic primary elections last year; of those, 47 were charged with subversion in February, according to SCMP.
The arrests were part of "repeated actions to restrict the ability of Hong Kong voters to elect their representatives" over the past year, said the report. (ANI)