FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a joint briefing about an executive order from U.S. President Donald Trump on the International Criminal Court at the State Department in Washington, U.S., June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Pool
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the United States would in future treat Hong Kong as a Chinese city rather than an autonomous one to the extent that China treats the territory as a Chinese city.
Pompeo told the online Copenhagen Democracy Summit that elections due to take place in Hong Kong in September would “tell us everything that we need to know about the Chinese Communist Party’s intentions with respect to freedom in Hong Kong.”
He also said the United States was working its way through a decision-making process over who would be held accountable over curbs to Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Pompeo spoke two days after his first face-to-face meeting in months with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, at which the latter said Washington needed to respect Beijing’s positions on key issues and halt its interference in matters such as Hong Kong, while working to repair relations.
U.S.-China relations have reached their lowest point in years since the coronavirus pandemic that began in China hit the United States hard.
Among multiple points of friction are China’s moves to impose new security legislation on Hong Kong, which have prompted Trump to initiate a process to eliminate special economic treatment that have allowed it to remain a major global financial center.
“President Trump has made it very, very clear,” said Pompeo. “To the extent that the Chinese Communist Party treats Hong Kong as it does Shenzen and Shanghai, we will treat them the same.
“Any agreements that are unique between the United States and Hong Kong, separate and different to those we have with Beijing, we will move away from every one of those.”
Referring to the election in Hong Kong, Pompeo said: “We should all watch very closely whether those elections are permitted to take place in a free and fair fashion.”
Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis