US Extradition and Tax-Exemption Deals With Hong Kong Eliminated

The waterfront of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Attributing the move to its concern over China’s trampling of human rights, the Trump administration on Wednesday ended three agreements with Hong Kong targeting extradition arrangements as well as tax exemptions.

“These agreements covered the surrender of fugitive offenders, the transfer of sentenced persons and reciprocal tax exemptions on income derived from the international operation of ships,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement this morning.

Ortagus noted that the move furthers foreign-policy actions outlined in a July executive order that ended a special trade agreement with Hong Kong as a punishment to China for oppressive acts against the city, reacting to China’s passage of a national-security law in May that abandons the “one country, two systems” policy that has kept the city independent from China’s communist rule after gaining control of the former British colony in 1997.

China passed its national-security law in reaction to pro-democracy protests that overtook Hong Kong last year. In addition to banning secessionist and subversive activity, the law bans foreign interference and terrorism. Each of these acts is defined broadly.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given the facts on the ground,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a May declaration to Congress.

China tried to pass a similar law in 2003 but it gained no traction after protests.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. sanctioned Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other pro-China government officials including Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong police force. Tang is seen along with Lam as two architects of China’s national-security law. 

Coinciding with intensifying pro-democracy in Hong Kong, U.S. President Donald Trump has increasingly sought to shift the blame his administration faces over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged earlier this year in Wuhan, China.

Pursuant to Trump’s July order, the U.S. said it was revoking export licenses from Hong Kong, ending American training services for members of the Hong Kong Police Force and eliminating the Fulbright scholarship program between the countries. 

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