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US revocation of Hong Kong's special status 'barbaric': China's HK office

US revocation of Hong Kong's special status 'barbaric': China's HK office

Riot police officers detain an anti-government demonstrator during a protest at Central District against the second reading of a controversial national anthem law in Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

HONG KONG: Washington's decision to revoke Hong Kong's special status over fears freedoms were slipping was "most barbaric", China's foreign ministry office in the financial hub said Thursday (May 28). 

"This is the most barbaric, the most unreasonable and the most shameless," the Commissioner's Office said in the first reaction from a Chinese government ministry.

READ: Hong Kong loses US 'special status' - what next?

READ: China's parliament approves Hong Kong national security Bill

Under a law passed last year by the US Congress aimed at supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, the US administration must certify that Hong Kong still enjoys the freedoms promised by Beijing when it negotiated with Britain to take back the colony.

Washington's decision on Wednesday that Hong Kong does not enjoy those freedoms means it could lose trading privileges - including lower tariffs than the mainland - with the world's largest economy.

US President Donald Trump will ultimately decide which actions to take, said David Stilwell, the top State Department official for East Asia.

"The steps will be considered and they will be as targeted as possible to change behaviour," Stilwell told reporters.

He said the United States did not want to hurt the people of Hong Kong, adding: "This decision was made by the government in Beijing, and not by the US."

China's National People's Congress of more than 2,800 delegates on Thursday voted in favour of the proposal to draft the law, which would punish secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that endanger national security.  

The security legislation could also pave the way for Chinese security agencies to open up branches in Hong Kong.​​​​​​​

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong insist there is no threat to the city's freedoms. 

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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