Biden extends Hong Kong’s emergency status

U.S. President Joe Biden

11th July 2024 – (Washington) U.S. President Joe Biden has reaffirmed the “national emergency” status for Hong Kong, marking the fourth extension since the city’s preferential trade treatment was rescinded in 2020. This decision continues a policy initiated by former President Donald Trump in response to the national security law imposed by Beijing, which followed extensive anti-government protests in Hong Kong beginning in 2019.

The renewal of this executive order, which is reviewed annually, underscores ongoing U.S. concerns over actions by the People’s Republic of China that are perceived to significantly erode the autonomy of Hong Kong. “The situation with respect to Hong Kong… continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” stated President Biden.

This executive order effectively eliminates the special trading privileges previously afforded to Hong Kong. The rationale provided by the US administration is that Hong Kong no longer maintains sufficient autonomy from mainland China to warrant such benefits. As a result, the region no longer enjoys special economic treatment, and restrictions have been placed on the export of sensitive technology to Hong Kong. Additionally, holders of Hong Kong passports are now treated the same as holders of Chinese passports.

The continuation of this policy has been met with criticism from the Chinese government. The Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong has previously issued strong objections to the extensions, which they view as unwarranted foreign interference in China’s domestic affairs. This decision coincides with recent U.S. actions, including the imposition of new visa restrictions on officials involved in implementing the national security law in Hong Kong. Moreover, the U.S. has called for the release of opposition figures convicted under this law, further highlighting the strained relations between the U.S. and China regarding Hong Kong’s governance and autonomy.