The United States is once again on a collision course with China over Hong Kong. Washington imposed sanctions on 14 Chinese officials after opposition members in that Chinese metropolis had been expelled from Parliament. On Tuesday, Beijing warned that it would take countermeasures.
The US sanctions were directed against prominent members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, an important Chinese governing body. The relationship between Washington and Beijing will thus continue to be under pressure in the last months of Donald Trump’s presidency.
China has been arguing with Western countries about Hong Kong for a long time. This former British crown colony has been part of China since 1997. The city of millions still has its own parliament and legal system. This system is known as ‘one country, two systems’ and should ensure that the metropolis has a ‘high degree of autonomy’ by 2047 at least.
Critics believe that Beijing is fiddling with the agreements that have been made on the autonomous status of Hong Kong. The pro-Chinese government of the city last month used new powers to deprive four opposition members of their seats in the so-called Legislative Council, the local parliament. Pro-democratic opposition members then stepped up en masse.
The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, stated in a statement that China is undermining the democratic process in Hong Kong. In his view, the local parliament in Hong Kong can no longer be seen as a significant opposition.