Such moves could mark the opening salvoes of the U.S. response as President Donald Trump weighs how far he is prepared to go after the State Department’s assessment on Wednesday that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous enough from Beijing to deserve special treatment under U.S. law that helped make it a global financial hub.
Internal U.S. deliberations, unfolding amid increased U.S.-China tensions over the coronavirus pandemic, are continuing and final decisions have yet to be made, as per sources.
But they suggested that the severity of U.S. measures could depend, at least in part, on the extent to which China’s Communist Party rulers implement planned national security rules in the former British colony. Beijing says there is no threat to Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and that it would counter any foreign interference.
David Stilwell, assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, said the long list of potential U.S. responses could be “across the spectrum,” including visa and economic sanctions.
Another option under consideration would call for suspending Hong Kong’s preferential tariff rates for exports to the United States, according to sources. Such action could put Hong Kong’s goods under the same tariffs that Trump has slapped on exports from the Chinese mainland.